31 May 2011

Would you credit it ?

It is usual in business to agree a period of time with the supplier to enjoy the goods or service before payment is made. This allows time for the goods to be checked & any failings to be identified or for timesheets to be examined ( the provision of "temps" in the healthcare sector is one where Mr Mustard has himself witnessed a fair amount of what is known as "fresh air" invoicing i.e. where only fresh air was supplied ) and for the due administrative process of invoice posting and payment to take place.

It is typical in business for 30 to 60 days to be the normal payment range for goods, although fresh food is likely to be less as is the provision of temporary help. However another factor to take into account is the strength of the buyer; a local authority is a cast iron risk as far as payment is concerned so Barnet Council should be easily able to negotiate a decent time to pay, if they aren't too busy with One Barnet project claptrap.

So let us take a look at what terms procurement have managed to negotiate for some random suppliers.

CCMPS Ltd                -           Nil - payment due immediately.

Yes that is correct. Mr Chris Malyon the Assistant Director of Commercial Assurance has negotiated for himself in a contract, through his company CCMPS Ltd, a payment term of immediate payment. Now the Delegated Powers Report no. 1249 discloses at paragraph 8.3 the following information:-

8.3 Reporting to the Commercial Director, the AD Commercial Assurance post was established within the Commercial Directorate to take responsibility for the corporate procurement team which has been consolidated into the Commercial Directorate in its entirety.

so what chance is there that the corporate procurement team could negotiate a proper credit term with their boss ? That is correct: none at all.

So if you take responsibility for the corporate procurement team, I presume that you will be honourable Mr Malyon and terminate your contract given the MetPro debacle ? Please feel free to add your comment at the end of the blog.

Hays HR Services Ltd                       -           1 day payment terms.

Pushing the boat out now Barnet Council aren't you ?

A whole day to check an invoice and arrange payment. I don't think that is likely do you ? This supplier is a massive company and can afford to give credit. 

The latest published accounts of Hays show that on average they grant 35 days credit so I would have thought that you Barnet Council could at least manage to negotiate 30 days. 

You have not negotiated have you ? you have capitulated. 

Here is another reason why you can get credit from Hays. In the year ended 31 March 2011 Barnet Council paid £3,981,978 to Hays HR Services, Hays Personnel & Hays Social Care between them. Hays need Barnet Council more than Barnet Council need Hays. There are plenty more employment agencies in Barnet. You should be sharing the work around in order to keep them all on their toes - that is just commonsense - oh, we don't have a Head  of Commonsense at Barnet Council now do we; unless of course you know better. 

You have tendered this supply under EU procurement regulations, haven't you ?

MJW Office Moves Ltd          -           7 days payment terms.

7 days still isn't long is it to check that dear Mr Willoughby has done his job properly before paying him. I use the word "job" advisedly as he has a touchdown desk and loan of a Barnet Council tablet PC and must spend pretty much all of his time at the North London Business Park doing the One Barnet staff shuffle.

Blue 9 Security Ltd     -           10 days payment terms

If Blue 9 pay their staff weekly then paying then this promptly is excusable but if they are monthly paid then it isn't. I wonder if all of their PAYE has been paid over to HM Revenue & Customs ?

Dinsdale Video Conferencing Ltd       -           10 days payment terms.

A local Company who probably get at least 30 days terms from their own suppliers so Barnet Council should be looking for at least the same.

Halliford Associates Ltd          -           10 days payment terms

A pity that this FOI answer is wrong unless of course the terms have been changed since the Contract was signed as that said 14 days. You couldn't wait an extra 4 days for your £1,000 a day Mr T ?

Impact Distribution Services Ltd       -  10 days payment terms

This supplier distributes the Barnet First propaganda rag Council newspaper. There is no possibility that a sample check of deliveries will have been carried out within 10 days and Mr Mustard's experience is that the people who want it don't get it and the ones who don't want it do get it !

Off the Wall Marketing Ltd     -           14 days payment terms.

This is categorised in Print Services in the over £500 list of supplier payments. Historically, printers had to wait 60 to 90 days for payment so paying them at 14 days is overly generous.

So what do you think readers. Barnet Council has the sharpest negotiators in the Country, or an excess of bureacrats and consultants who are collectively as sharp as a beachball. You tell me.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard


  1. Dear oh dear oh dear: councillors of Barnet, are you reading this? Any questions spring to mind? Something's gone awfully wrong somewhere, hasn't it?

  2. Dinsdale is the company which sold Barnet council flat screen TVs for £3,500 each. The contract was never put out to tender. Sounds familiar? The council argued that each invoice from the contractor was a separate contract and therefore under the legal limit which requires a tender to be prepared. You do sometimes have to admire the bullshit which this council comes out with to support its questionable purchasing policy.

    At the time, Barnet accounted for the overwhelming majority of Dinsdale’s business. As any sensible person knows, you do not allow a supplier to be dependent upon you for their survival. It increases the risk of unethical business practices. Not that there is any evidence of that in this particular instance of course. I am sure there is a perfectly good reason why Barnet bought TVs at what was then substantially higher than the equivalent cost from Currys.

  3. How odd that I chose them at random. I knew about the flat screen nonsense but being new to this scene had no idea who supplied the screens. There is, it would seem, either something odd going in the procurement division or they are being nudged to ignore the rules or they might just be no good at procurement; none is an acceptable state of affairs.
    Dinsdale have been paid £63,000 in 12 months to 31 March 2011.


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