Broadband Speeds

September 13, 2011

I am about to meet senior BT managers to discuss broadband speeds in my constituency. I have had complaints from Royston and villages closer to Hertford that the speeds are just too slow for modern business needs. In Royston, I was first contacted by Town Centre BID Manager Geraint Burnell and I have had pleas from a number of businesses in the Mundens and to the South West of Hertford. The story so far from BT about Royston is that 4mg should be possible and that it is one of 1000 exchanges due for upgrade. I will be pressing about the timetable and asking about the southern areas too.

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Talking about Welfare Reform

September 12, 2011

On Friday Iain Duncan Smith spoke to 150 Conservatives about his welfare reforms. I was part of the research project which led Iain to set a new course for Government in this area. Some years ago, with his Centre for Social Justice, he asked Conservative MPs to investigate social problems and try to experience what deprivation can be like. I had been involved in Inner City youth projects in earlier days and had given free legal advice through the Free Representation Unit and decided to volunteer to help Iain. I was asked to live in a homeless hostel for a week. The experience was a real eye-opener. Other colleagues did other tasks – Oliver Letwin spent time in prison, I believe.

Iain came to the conclusion that worklessness was the cause of many social problems. His plans to ensure that work always pays better than benefits and to give real help to job seekers through the Work Programme are widely supported. I am a member of the Work and Pensions Select Committee and we are very keen to help make Iain’s reforms work. I am now going to speak at a seminar about some of the details with the Westminster Policy Forum.


Departmental Billing May 2010 -April 2010

September 2, 2011

Over the course of the last year in the House, I have asked each government department their payment rate of invoices for small and middle sized enterprises and whether they adhere to the new cross Government target that required Departments to pay at least 80% of valid invoices within five working days.  A summary of the answers to my written questions are below in a table:

Table showing Analysis of Payment Rates of Invoices by Government Departments within 5 days of receipt (taken from Written Answers to Questions by Oliver Heald MP):

Department Percentage Paid (%) Percentage Paid (%) Necessarily paid within 5 days?/ Notes
AG’s office CPS -29.9 SFO -16.2 for 10 months Y -no distinction for SMEs
BIS 95.30   Y -no distinction for SMEs
Cabinet Office 99.00   N -usually within 30 days,but aims to adhere to 5/10 day code -no distinction for SMEs
DCMS 74.10   Y -no distinction for SMEs
DEFRA  66.30   Y -but other DEFRA agencies alot less
DWP 85.30   Y -no distinction for SMEs
Education  78.00   Y -no distinction for SMEs
DCLG  73.00   Y -no distinction for SMEs
Defence 94.75   Y -no distinction for SMEs
DFID  –   No info for SMEs
Foreign  88.40   Y -no distinction for SMEs
Health  92.54   Y -no distinction for SMEs
Home Office 85.00   Y -to SMEs
Justice   81.90   Y -no distinction for SMEs
N. Ireland  40.00   Y or 97.5% within 10 days
Scotland 99.10   Y -no distinction for SMEs
Transport  90.60   Y -no distinction for SMEs
Treasury  88.00   Y -no distinction for SMEs
Treas. Sol.  87.00   N -within 30 days, no info on SMEs provided
Wales 94.63   Y -no distinction for SMEs

My Questions About Government Departmental Billing

September 1, 2011

Written Answers to Questions by Oliver Heald MP:

DEPARTMENTAL BILLING MAY 2010 –APRIL 2011

1.18.07.11 – To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what proportion of invoices from small and medium-sized businesses were paid by his Department within five working days of receipt in the last 12 months for which figures are available.
In May 2010 the Government target to pay 90% of supplier invoices within 10 working days was replaced with a new target to pay 80% of supplier invoices in five working days. In the period from June 2010 to May 2011 the FCO paid 88.4% of supplier invoices within five working days of receiving a valid invoice. The FCO supports this important Government initiative and is aware of the importance of paying suppliers as quickly as possible. Information on the size of the FCO’s suppliers is not held centrally so to identify invoices from only small and medium-sized enterprise suppliers could be supplied only at disproportionate cost.
2. 14.07.11 – To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what proportion of invoices from small and medium-sized businesses were paid by his Department within five working days of receipt in the last 12 months for which figures are available.
The percentage of invoices paid within five days by the Department for the 12 months June 2010 to May 2011 is 90.66%. It is not possible to distinguish those which relate to small and medium-sized businesses. This represents 181,653 invoices paid within five days for the 12-month period out of 200,374 invoices received. The Department does not currently record and publish information about the size of suppliers as this does not fully reflect the number and size of businesses engaged in supplying goods and services. We do not discriminate by size of business because many SMEs can be found within larger supply chains.
3. 11.07.11 -To ask the Secretary of State for Education what proportion of invoices from small and medium-sized businesses were paid by his Department within five working days of receipt in the last 12 months for which figures are available.
The Department does not currently record within its finance systems information about the size of its suppliers. The Department is working with our shared service provider to explore ways to provide more comprehensive reporting in particular on small and medium-sized employers. For the period June 2010 to May 2011 a total number of 48,464 invoices were processed and paid on behalf of the Department by our shared services provider, of which 78% were paid within the Government’s target of payment within five days.
4 11.07.11 – To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what proportion of invoices from small and medium-sized businesses were paid by her Department within five working days of receipt in the last 12 months for which figures are available.
The Department does not currently distinguish SMEs when measuring performance on paying invoices within five working days. The performance of the Department and its Executive agencies for payments to all suppliers for the financial year 2010-11 is shown in the following table:
Within five days average full year Percentage
DEFRA 66.3
FERA 75.6
VMD 83.4
CEFAS 53.3
RPA 97.9

AH 96.1
VLA 75.1

5. 06.07.11 – To ask the Attorney-General what proportion of invoices from small and medium-sized businesses were paid by the Law Officers’ Departments within five working days of receipt in the last 12 months for which figures are available.
The Law Officers’ Departments do not currently record or publish information about the size of suppliers as this does not fully reflect the number and size of businesses engaged in the supply chain for goods and services. They also do not discriminate by size of business because many small and medium enterprises can be found within larger supply chains. The following table shows the proportion of invoices, from businesses of all sizes, paid by Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) within five working days of receipt in the last 12 months for which information is available:
Percentage of invoices paid in five days
Date CPS SFO
June 2010 26 29
July 2010 23 10
August 2010 32 22
September 2010 43 11
October 2010 38 16
November 2010 35 11
December 2010 31 12
January 2011 28 9
February 2011 29 5
March 2011 35 27
April 2011 16 n/a
May 2011 23 n/a

The Treasury Solicitor’s Department (TSol) target is to pay undisputed invoices within 30 days from receipt and the Department does not hold any data on the numbers which were paid within five working days and could obtain such information only at a disproportionate cost. Records show that around 87% of all invoices were paid within 30 days in the last 12 months. TSol is also responsible for processing invoices for the Attorney-General’s Office and HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate and figures for both organisations are included in the TSol records.
6. 06.07.11 – To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what proportion of invoices from small and medium-sized businesses were paid by his Department within five working days of receipt in the last 12 months for which figures are available.
In May 2010 a new cross Government target was introduced that required Departments to pay at least 80% of valid invoices within five working days. The previous target was payment within 10 working days. Over the last 12 months (July 2010 to June 2011 inclusive), the Department has exceeded the 80% target and has paid 95.3% of valid invoices within five working days of receipt. For information, the Department publishes its monthly payment performance against the five working day target and this can be found at:http://www.bis.gov.uk/about/procurement/prompt-payment/bis-payment-performance The Department does not currently record and publish information about the size of suppliers as this does not fully reflect the number and size of businesses engaged in supplying goods and services. We do not discriminate by size of business because many SMEs can be found within larger supply chains.
7. 06.07.11 – To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what proportion of invoices from small and medium-sized businesses were paid by his Department within five working days of receipt in the last 12 months for which figures are available.
The information requested for the Cabinet Office is not readily available and could not be obtained without exceeding the disproportionate cost threshold. For details of Cabinet Office invoices paid on time I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 29 June 2011, Official Report, column 843W, to the right hon. Member for Southampton, Itchen (Mr Denham).
29.06.11 Mr Denham: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office how many invoices received by his Department were paid (a) on time and (b) late in each month since May 2010; and what the monetary value is of the invoices paid late. [62491]
Mr Maude: The Cabinet Office aims to pay all undisputed invoices within the terms of contract, usually 30 days of receipt of a valid invoice. The Cabinet Office is additionally committed to the prompt payment code and aims to pay all correctly rendered invoices as soon as possible within both a five day and 10-day payment target. The Department’s performance against the 30-day target since May 2010 is shown in the following table:
Number paid within 30-days Value of invoices paid within 30-days (£) Number paid after 30-days Value of invoices paid after 30-days (£)
May 2010 1,597 = 99% 24,112,721.99 3 84,932.37
June 2010 1,718 = 99% 27,066,743.46 5 149,319.22
July 2010 1,425 = 99% 49,561,354.52 6 84,932.37
August 2010 1,137 = 99% 15,806,854.21 6 149,373.82
September 2010 1306 =99% 33,059,244.81 3 12,958.12
October 2010 1154 =99% 27,361,551.13 6 70,876.06
November 2010 1589 =99% 31,495,747.28 2 556.90
December 2010 1406 =99% 19,209,095.10 5 3,092.82
January 2011 1471 =100% 23,100,873.55 0 —
February 2011 1873 =99% 23,453,967.13 11 49,108.17
March 2011 1684 =99% 45,560,823.27 9 49,854.32
April 2011 1300 =97% 95,514,168.03 32 129,725.50
May 2011 1693 =99% 18,051,419.53 4 25,223.18
19,353 =99% 433,354,564.01 92 809,952.85

8. 06.07.11 – To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what proportion of invoices from small and medium-sized businesses were paid by his Department within five working days of receipt in the last 12 months for which figures are available.
The Department’s aim is to pay all valid goods and services invoices within five working days and this applies to all suppliers of goods and services. Details of the Treasury Group’s performance against this five working day aim since May 2010 can be found on the department’s website at:www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/group_payment_performance.htm
Since May 2010 the following percentage of invoices were paid within 5 days:
Percentage Date Avg for yr end Grand Total Percentage
89.31% – January 2011
91.08% – February 2011
91.46% – March 2011
91.49% – April 2011 90.83%
89.14% – May 2011
2010
80.00% – May 2010
78.59% – June 2010
83.21% – July 2010
83.61% – August 2010
88.24% – September 2010
86.00% – October 2010
94.94% – November 2010
91.38% – December 2010 85.74% 88%

9. 06.07.11 – To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what proportion of invoices from small and medium-sized businesses were paid by his Department within five working days of receipt of invoice in the last 12 months for which information is available.
The Department for Communities and Local Government does not currently record and publish information about the size of suppliers as this does not fully reflect the number and size of businesses engaged in supplying goods and services. We do not discriminate by size of business because many small and medium-sized enterprises can be found within larger supply chains. The following table sets out the Department’s overall performance against the five working day target during the last 12 months:
Date Number of Invoices paid within 5 days of receipt Percentage paid on within 5 days of receipt Number of Invoices paid after 5 days of receipt Percentage Paid after 5 days of receipt
June 2010 2,985 80.03 596 19.97
July 2010 2,795 79.25 580 20.75
Aug 2010 2,479 79.43 510 20.57
Sept 2010 2,420 83.55 398 16.45
Oct 2010 2,676 83.18 450 16.82
Nov 2010 2,513 81.93 454 18.07
Dec 2010 2,030 82.12 363 17.88
Jan 2011 2,097 81.12 396 18.88
Feb 2011 1,992 79.07 417 20.93
March 2011 2,335 75.89 563 24.11
April 2011 1,751 79.10 366 20.90
May 2011 1,411 84.05 225 15.95

It should be noted that the new five-day target is more demanding than the previous 10-day target. We are taking steps to improve our performance on meeting these new targets. Avg =73 %
10. 06.07.11 – To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport what proportion of invoices from small and medium-sized businesses were paid by his Department within five working days of receipt in the last 12 months for which figures are is available.
The Department’s payment systems do not currently distinguish between payments to large and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Both are given equal priority. During the period June 2010 to May 2011, the Department’s overall performance against the Government’s target of paying 80% of valid invoices within five working days was 74.1%.
11. 06.07.11 – To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what proportion of invoices from small and medium-sized businesses were paid by his Department within five working days of receipt in the last 12 months for which figures are available.
The Ministry of Defence (MOD) is a signatory to the Prompt Payment Code and is fully committed, along with the Department’s trading partners, to pay all suppliers as quickly as possible. We aim to pay 80% of invoices within five working days. The following cumulative performance has been achieved, in the 12 months to 31 May 2011.

Number/Percentage
Invoices paid 4,353,287
Percentage within five day target 94.75

The five day target and the above performance relate to all MOD suppliers, irrespective of size, as it would be impractical to differentiate between small and medium enterprises and others.
12. 06.07.11 – To ask the Secretary of State for Health what proportion of invoices from small and medium-sized businesses were paid by his Department within five working days of receipt in the last 12 months for which figures are available.
The Department does not keep separate statistics in relation to small and medium-sized businesses, but aims to pay all invoices within five days regardless of the size of the supplier. Performance against that target is published on the Department’s website as required by Cabinet Office.www.dh.gov.uk/en/Aboutus/HowDHworks/Servicestandardsandcommitments/DH_117222
In the period 1 June 2010 to 31 May 2011 the Department paid 92.54% of all valid invoices received at our nominated address within five days of receipt.
13. 06.07.11 – To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what proportion of invoices from small and medium-sized businesses were paid by his Department within five working days of receipt in the last 12 months for which figures are available.
The Department for International Development (DFID) does not hold payment performance information specifically relating to small and medium-sized businesses.
14. 05.07.11 – To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what proportion of invoices from small and medium-sized businesses were paid by her Department within five working days of receipt in the last 12 months for which figures are available.
For the period from June 2010 to May 2011 the Home Department paid 85% of compliant invoices from small and medium-sized businesses within five working days of receipt of invoice.
15. 05.07.11 – To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what proportion of invoices from small and medium-sized businesses were paid by his Department within five working days of receipt in the last 12 months for which figures are available.
For the 12 month period from June 2010 to May 2011, the Ministry of Justice paid 81.9% of all invoices within five working days of receipt of the invoice. The Department does not currently record and publish information about the size of suppliers as this does not fully reflect the number and size of businesses engaged in supplying goods and services. We do not discriminate by size of business because many SMEs can be found within larger supply chains. Details of the Ministry’s prompt payment performance are publicly available on the MOJ website at:http://www.justice.gov.uk/about/procurement-and-commercial/payment-performance.htm
16. 05.07.11 – To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what proportion of invoices from small and medium-sized businesses were paid by his Department within five working days of receipt in the last 12 months for which figures are available.
The Department does not currently record and publish information about the size of suppliers as this does not fully reflect the number and size of businesses engaged in supplying goods and services. For example, many SMEs can be found within larger supply chains. During the 12 months to the end of May 2011 a total of 10,449 invoices were received by the Department. 40% of these were paid within five working days of receipt, and 97.5% were paid within 10 working days of receipt.
17. 05.07.11 – To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what proportion of invoices from small and medium-sized businesses were paid by her Department within five working days of receipt in the last 12 months for which figures are available.
The Wales Office paid 94.63% of all invoices within five days over the last 12 months. Our records are not kept in a form that enables us to differentiate between the sizes of businesses.
18. 05.07.11 – To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what proportion of invoices from small and medium-sized businesses were paid by his Department within five working days of receipt in the last 12 months for which figures are available.
The Department does not currently record and publish information about the size of suppliers as this does not fully reflect the number and size of businesses engaged in supplying goods and services. We do not discriminate by size of business because many SMEs can be found within larger supply chains. The percentage of all supplier payments made within five days of receipt of an invoice for the last 12 months are:

Date Five days of receipt (percentage)
2010
June 84
July 82
August 81
September 85
October 87
November 88
December 86
2011
January 89
February 86
March 85
April 85
May 86

The Department is therefore compliant with the Government’s Prompt Payment Code target of 80% within five days of receipt. The Department for Work and Pensions became a signatory to the Prompt Payment Code in March 2009 and set a target to pay 80% of correct invoices within five days of receipt. The Department also monitors payment within 10 days of receipt under the Prompt Payment Code which is as follows:

Date 10 days of receipt (percentage)
2010
June 98
July 97
August 97
September 97
October 99
November 98
December 98
2011
January 98
February 96
March 99
April 98
May 98

19. 04.07.11 – To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what proportion of invoices from small and medium-sized businesses were paid by his Department within five working days of receipt in the last 12 months for which figures are available.
The Scotland Office endeavours to pay all suppliers within five days and does not differentiate between small, medium-sized or large businesses. Between 1 June 2010 and 31 May 2011 the Scotland Office paid 99.1% of invoices within five days.