Antrim and Newtownabbey: councillor queries speed of invoice payments

A DUP councillor has expressed concern over the speed of invoice payments by Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council.
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Speaking at a meeting of the council’s Policy and Governance Committee at Antrim Civic Centre, on Tuesday evening, Macedon Councillor Matthew Brady said it was “quite concerning to see people are waiting.”

Cllr Brady was commenting on the council’s latest prompt payment performance report for the period between 1 October, 2023, until 31 December, which was presented to the committee for consideration. The committee was told during this quarter, the council paid invoices totalling £9,1m.

The Department for Communities has issued guidance for local authorities on prompt payments. Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council has set a target of paying 90% of invoices within 30 days and 80% within 10 days.

Antrim Civic Centre. Photo supplied by Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council.Antrim Civic Centre. Photo supplied by Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council.
Antrim Civic Centre. Photo supplied by Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council.

The local government authority paid 4,934 invoices within 10 days during the quarter which was 70 per cent and 6,050 invoices within 30 days, 85 per cent. The local authority paid 1,024 invoices outside of the 30-day target. The report also noted payment performance levels have improved for 30 days and 10 days since the previous quarter.

Commenting on the current report, Cllr Brady said: “I know that we are dealing with thousands of invoices in a short time frame.” He went on to ask what has been the “main contributor towards figures dropping off”.

Sandra Cole, the council’s director of finance and governance, said she also provided updated figures to offer “an assurance” to councillors.

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She said: “We are improving our performance and moving towards our target. In some sections, invoices are more complex. Some are for £1m which requires scrutiny.” Others, for fleet maintenance, for example, she noted are “straightforward and can be approved quite quickly”.

The director also indicated “a lot of change in terms of rate paid to agency workers”. “We are working continually with suppliers to meet targets that have been set.”

Cllr Brady commented: “I can see the improvement overall. It is quite concerning to see people are waiting.”

Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter

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