SNP slated after breaking OWN rules 1,700 times in four years

Scottish Budget: Kate Forbes outlines 'exceptional' response

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Rules put forward by former Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond’s Government made clear that any contractor who undertakes work for the Scottish Government should be paid within 30 days. But FOI data revealed that SNP ministers failed to meet its 30-day deadline for 1,694 valid invoices since 2016.

The numbers have steadily increased from 183 in 2016/17 to 527 in 2020/21.

Elsewhere, the data also reveals 1,426 invoices that were disputed were also paid over 30 days between 2016 and 2020.

Holyrood opposition parties and business chiefs claimed the data showed SNP ministers could be driving small firms out of business because of late payments.

Liz Smith MSP, Scottish Conservative finance spokesman, said: “Late payments to suppliers is an issue the SNP have failed to get on top of for far too long.

The numbers have steadily increased from 183 in 2016/17 to 527 in 2020/21.

Elsewhere, the data also reveals 1,426 invoices that were disputed were also paid over 30 days between 2016 and 2020.

Holyrood opposition parties and business chiefs claimed the data showed SNP ministers could be driving small firms out of business because of late payments.

Liz Smith MSP, Scottish Conservative finance spokesman, said: “Late payments to suppliers is an issue the SNP have failed to get on top of for far too long.

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“They are failing to meet their own rules that were set up in the early days of them arriving into power.

“As we look to accelerate our economic recovery, this simply cannot continue.

“The Scottish Conservatives would introduce penalties to blacklist companies who repeatedly fail to pay their supply chains, temporarily banning them from bidding for public contracts.’

“Quite rightly, businesses expect to be paid on time, not least because their workforces depend on that income.”

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Andrew McRae, policy chairman at the Federation of Small Business Scotland, added: “Thousands of good Scottish businesses go bust every year because of late payment.

“They simply don’t have the resources to wait for big companies to do the right thing and pay up.

“It is even more frustrating when local firms don’t get paid on time when they’re a subcontractor on a public sector project backed with taxpayer cash.

“We need to see more effort from governments north and south of the Border to help us end the chronic late payment culture that plagues our small business community and forces successful firms under.”

The stark figures come after a government survey conducted in December 2020 revealed that 75 percent of subcontractors working on Scottish Government construction projects were not paid on time.

In response, a Scottish Government spokesman said: “The Scottish Government directly spent £369 million on goods and services to support the delivery of public services in 2019-20, paying 99 per cent of valid invoices within ten days.

“We are working with contractors, and continue to collaborate with the Construction Leadership Forum, to monitor payments throughout the supply chain.”

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