- Posted by: Joyce Watson MS
- Category: Feature
CONSERVATIVE-controlled Monmouthshire Council is the worst performing local authority in Wales when it comes to paying its bills on time, it has been revealed.
Figures obtained from the Welsh Government by Labour Assembly member Joyce Watson show that in the past financial year, the flagship Conservative council was late paying suppliers on nearly one in four occasions.
County halls are supposed to pay all uncontested invoices within 30 days, and the Welsh Government encourages them to do so within 10 days. However, in 2010-11, Monmouthshire Council failed to meet the 30-day target in 23.5 percent of cases, and only paid invoices within 10 days 20 percent of the time.
In comparison, across the other 21 local authorities in Wales, on average, councils met the 30-day target 90.2 percent of the time, achieving the 10-day benchmark in 57.3 percent of cases.
Mrs Watson, a member of the Assembly’s Enterprise and Business Committee, said the Conservative council’s failure to pay invoices promptly was “hurting” small businesses.
She said: “Procurement contracts are a crucial way in which public bodies can support Welsh business, and reliable cash-flow is vital for smaller firms, especially.
“Over the summer I met more than 30 individual traders, businesses, groups and trade boards and surveyed more than 50 businesses to better understand the day-to-day pressures firms face – more than a third (38%) of them said procurement practices and delays in local authorities paying invoices on time was the biggest issue for them.”
The Mid and West Wales AM added: “Nationally, the Welsh Conservatives claim to support small firms, but where they actually have power in Wales they are letting them down.”
Monmouthshire County Councillor Armand Watts, who sits on the council’s Economy and Development Committee, said: “Monmouthshire has had a dreadful record on this for years – they are consistently the worst offending local authority in Wales.
“It’s very unfair on the firms that do business with the council. They shouldn’t have to wait a month or more to get paid for the goods and services they supply – it’s scandalous, really.”
Following the second All Wales Economic Summit held on 6 November 2008 it was jointly agreed by participants, including local government and the Welsh Government that they would increase the proportion of payments made within 10 days, of which the first step would be to work to ensure that the 30 day target is met consistently by the Welsh public sector.