Public Sector: Procurement

Cabinet Office written question – answered on 22nd November 2012.

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Photo of Gordon Banks Gordon Banks Labour, Ochil and South Perthshire

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office pursuant to the answer of 17 July 2012, Official Report, column 690W, on public sector: procurement, what steps he has taken to tackle late payment practices as a consequence of the Mystery Shopper scheme; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Chloe Smith Chloe Smith The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office

This Government introduced the Mystery Shopper scheme to help deal with the poor procurement practice which we inherited in May 2010.

Mystery Shopper cases are addressed on an individual basis. Completed investigations have so far resulted in outstanding invoices being paid, amended payment terms, and processes being streamlined.

In 2010 we reiterated our policy in central Government to pay undisputed invoices within five days and to pass 30 day payment terms down supply chains. We expect our suppliers to follow our example on prompt payment and pay their sub-contractors within the 30 day limit.

In July 2011 MCO announced three specific actions our suppliers, Departments and SMEs themselves can take to help us achieve this goal.

First, our Crown Representative team is encouraging prime contractors to pay more quickly than the 30 days commitment on a voluntary basis.

Second, Departments are monitoring prime contractors' performance against the 30 day commitment to pay sub contractors as part of the contract management process.

Third, although our policy is mandated best practice rather than a legislative requirement, we are encouraging SMEs to use the 'Mystery Shopper' service to report to Government instances where this is not happening; and we regularly publish investigated cases on the Cabinet Office website.

The most recent report goes to May 2012, so cases investigated since then have not yet been published.

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