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Cabinet Office to name and shame poor payers

Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude has unveiled plans to support SMEs by naming and shaming major contractors and clients who withold payments.

He made the call at yesterday’s Innovation Launch Pad Product Surgery, a special event organised to enable some of Britain’s most innovative and pioneering SMEs to pitch their ideas direct to Government buyers.

“Prompt payment is crucial to smaller companies,” he said. “The government has an excellent record on paying our bills quickly and we expect our suppliers to do the same and pay sub-contractors well within the 30 day limit. When work has been done, especially by an SME, it is just inexcusable not to pay up quickly for that service.

“We will be keeping a close eye on how the big suppliers choose to pay their sub-contractors and we won’t shy away from naming and shaming those that we find have failed to pay promptly.”

Maude set out measures for monitoring prompt payment, including: 

  • Departments will monitor prime contractors performance as part of their contract management processes.
  • SMEs will be encouraged to use the ‘Mystery Shopper’ service to report to Government instances where payment is slipping. The Mystery Shopper service can be used if a supplier sees a tender they do not understand or a specification that they think is gold plated, and Cabinet Office will raise the issue with the contracting authority concerned, anonymously if necessary. The results will be published on this website
  • The Crown Representatives team, who coordinate the government’s approach to the management of key suppliers across all departments, will strongly encourage prime contractors to pay more quickly than 30 days.

Today’s event builds on the radical package of measures set out earlier in the year, since February:

  • 14 Government departments have eradicated the burdensome Pre-Qualification Questionnaire process from low value tenders.
  • The Contracts Finder website has received over a million page views and has over 16,000 registered users.
  • To date, 600 contracts worth over £80M have been awarded to SMEs.

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