Question: My company has a contract with a government department, how can I ensure I get paid quickly?
Linda Brown, divisional director of IoD replies:
A. In an IoD Northern Ireland survey on bank lending conditions, respondents said that cash flow problems for businesses were being exacerbated by suppliers pushing for shorter payment terms and it was also taking longer to get paid — 82% of respondents were having to wait more than 31 days for payment.
Government is a major customer to many businesses and central government payments here are handled by an organisation called Account NI. There are some things that you can do to ensure you get paid more quickly.
Firstly, make sure that you get a purchase order for the goods or services you are supplying. The details on your invoice should correspond to the details on the purchase order. The item description and unit of measure should match exactly what was provided in the purchase order.
Put the purchase order number on your invoice and send it to Account NI, not to the department that made the order; if you send it to the department, then you should be aware that the invoice will only be processed when it gets to Account NI.
It is important to provide clear and complete information in your invoices or credit notes. Make sure that your company name and address is clearly stated on the invoice. Put the tax point/invoice date and state your payment terms on all invoices. Providing your bank details will enable your invoices to be paid by BACs, getting the money into your account more quickly.
Finally make sure you send your invoices to the correct address. You can find the addresses for the 11 government departments under ‘Where should you send your invoices’ and other useful information on the Account NI website — www.accountni.dfpni.gov.uk.