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Government Departments: Promptness of Payments

Lord Stone of Blackheath asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: I am pleased to announce that there has been a further improvement in the payment performance of central government as a whole. The overall payment performance shows that 97.8 per cent of suppliers' bills were paid on time and departments are making good progress towards meeting the 100 per cent target set for this financial year.

There is no room for complacency. It is particularly important that the public sector sets an example to business and is seen to pay its bills on time. I am disappointed to see that a number of departments and agencies failed to meet this year's target of 100 per cent. I have taken steps to remind all departments and agencies of the importance of paying suppliers' bills on time and meeting the target.

I am particularly disappointed at my own department's failure to meet the target. It is unacceptable that the department which has overall responsibility for the Government's policy on prompt payment should itself fail to meet the target. My officials are introducing new measures designed to ensure that the DTI meets the target as soon as possible this year.

The Government are committed to improving the UK's payment culture. Late payment is a serious problem, particularly for small businesses. Not knowing when the customers' bills will be paid means uncertain cashflow, increased borrowings, higher costs and reduced profits.

Government departments and their agencies are required to monitor their payment performance and to publish the results in their departmental or annual reports. The following table lists, by department, the proportion of bills paid within 30 days, or other agreed credit period, of receipt of a valid invoice for financial year 1999-2000.

Government Departments Payment Performance 1999-2000

Main DepartmentsPaid on Time (Percentage)
National Weights & Measures Laboratory(1)100.00
National Investment and Loans Office100.00
Privy Council Office100.00
Radiocommunications Agency(1)99.98
Registry of Friendly Societies99.90
Ministry of Defence99.77
Department for Culture, Media and Sport99.59
Land Registry99.26
Patent Office(1)99.13
Office of Water Services99.07
Public Records Office99.06
Ordnance Survey98.90
Government Actuary's Department98.84
Export Credit Guarantee Department98.60
Insolvency Service(1)98.56
HM Treasury98.51
Office for National Statistics98.51
Office of Fair Trading98.49
Office for Standards in Education98.40
Office of the Rail Regulator98.20
HM Customs & Excise98.06
Inland Revenue97.98
NI Dept. Health Estates97.95
Foreign & Commonwealth Office97.90
Intervention Board for Agricultural Produce97.81
Office of Telecommunications97.68
Health & Safety Executive97.58
Northern Ireland Office97.56
Crown Prosecution Service97.50
Lord Chancellor's Department97.42
Charity Commission97.39
Department for Education & Employment97.31
Forestry Commission97.30
NI Dept of Education97.28
Government Communications HQ97.14
PFO (GCHQ)97.14
Department for National Savings97.10
Department for International Development96.82
Office of the Parliamentry Commissioner for Administration and Health Service Commissioners96.48
Home Office96.34
NI Court Service96.32
Cabinet Office (OPS)96.24
Department of Health95.28
Department of Social Security95.14
Shadow Strategic Rail Authority94.78
Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions94.70
Serious Fraud Office94.49
Royal Parks Agency(2)94.00
NI Dept. Environment inc. agencies93.05
Treasury Solicitors Department93.05
Department of Trade and Industry93.00
Employment Tribunal Service(1)93.00
NI Dept of Agriculture & Rural Development92.83
Companies House(1)92.34
Royal Mint91.00
NI Department of Finance and Personnel90.22
Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries & Food89.51
Overall Total97.89


(1) Are Agencies of the Department of Trade and Industry

(2) Is an Agency in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport

28 Jul 2000 : Column WA131

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