A SURVEY of town halls across the country shows that Kirklees is the top council in Yorkshire for paying recession-hit business in good time.
Kirklees “easily” emerged as the top council in Yorkshire and Humber for processing payments to its suppliers and contractors within 10 days.
The council was also one of the best-performing authorities in the UK, according to small business lobby group the Forum of Private Business.
The FPB used the Freedom of Information Act to ask councils across Britain how quickly they were processing payments to firms they do business with.
The research was timed to come a year after central government urged town halls to settle invoices within 10 days – to help smaller businesses keep cash flowing in the recession.
The FPB found Yorkshire and the Humber was one of the worst in England for council suppliers getting their bills paid in good time.
Across the region, the average percentage of invoiced paid within 10 days stood at 34%. That compares with 44% across England.
In addition, 89% of bills were paid within 30 days – matching London and the north-east as the joint worst.
However, Kirklees Council paid an “impressive” 81% of its invoices within 10 days – way above its nearest rival in the region, North Yorkshire County Council, which managed 65%.
Along with Calderdale Council, Kirklees was joint best in the region for 30-day payment, processing 98% of invoices within the month.
FPB spokesman Phil McCabe said: “We wholeheartedly welcome the efforts Kirklees Council has obviously made to pay local businesses quickly during the downturn.
“We would urge all the other councils in the area to follow Kirklees’ example and do everything they can to pay their suppliers and contractors within 10 days – particularly if they are smaller firms.”
Mr McCabe said: “Having to wait for invoices to be settled can be hugely damaging
“If we can get all town halls processing invoices as quickly as Kirklees Council, we can boost the fortunes of many small firms in their areas without costing the taxpayer a penny extra.”
The FPB found other authorities in the Yorkshire and Humber region were much worse than Kirklees Council at paying promptly.
Wakefield District Council reported the poorest performance for paying within 10 days – at just 1%. York and Leeds city councils paid 13% of bills within the 10-day time frame while North Lincolnshire Council paid 10% of invoices within 10 days and paid 74% of its bills within 30 days.
Kirklees Council leader Clr Mehboob Khan, said: “Supporting local business is very important to us. We are delighted that the FPB has recognised our work.
“Paying suppliers quickly can make a massive difference to their cash flow and we have been focusing our attention on this for quite some time because we understand its importance, especially in a time of recession.”
Clr Khan said: “Our commitment was highlighted earlier this year when Kirklees became only the second council in the country to sign up to the Prompt Payment Code.
“We were already paying 80% of suppliers and sub-contractors within 10 days, but joining the code was a formal pledge to keep up the good workl.
“We monitor payments very closely – and figures for the most recent period of the financial year actually show that we improved once again by paying 83.2% of invoices within 10 days.”