eInvoicing Update in the UK: Findings from the Parliamentary Inquiry

June 3, 2014 Nigel Taylor


A few weeks ago, saw the release of the findings of the Parliamentary Inquiry investigating the adoption of electronic invoicing within the UK public sector.

Along with many other contributors, I witnessed Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General, give a detailed speech at the Houses of Parliament on the value eInvoicing offers HM Government and how his department is actively engaged in implementing the recommendations.

This may not seem like big news, but personally, as someone who has been advocating the use of eInvoicing within the UK public sector for over three years now, this was a significant milestone. For the first time, a senior member of the government has publicly stated that the UK Government endorses the use of eInvoicing – and within the UK National eInvoicing Forum (UKNeF) this was also an endorsement of our work so far.

Working with Stephen McPartland, Member of Parliament for Stevenage (an avid supporter of our work at the UKNeF) the group has many achievements and accumulated the support of different Ministers, and it was Stephen’s drive that ensured the report was compiled.

The report offered 5 key findings:

1: The adoption of eInvoicing in the UK public sector supporting economic growth: The Government should encourage transparency and greater efficiency by establishing defined targets for eInvoicing in the public sector, for example, by including how much they pay by eInvoicing and how quickly they pay, in their annual reports.

2: Learning from the UK private sector: Make eInvoicing a contractual requirement in the public sector and set common standards against the background of the European e-procurement Directives, based upon experience from the private sector.

3: Learning from other countries: The UK should be moving from average to world leading and, by looking at the experience of other countries, seriously consider whether mandating is required in the public sector.

4: European legislation provides a framework for change: The Government should ensure that the rapid transposition of the European e-procurement Directives through legislation also confirms an obligation to adopt eInvoicing.

5: Greater inclusion of SMEs in the public procurement process: eInvoicing solutions should be paid for by efficiency savings, and be free to small businesses (up to a defined level of activity) to encourage and ensure their involvement.

Within these recommendations are some serious actions for HM Government to commit to, including benchmarking eInvoicing adoption across the UK Public Sector and the inclusion of SMEs. 

Governments across Europe are now under pressure to pay in 30 days under the new Late Payments Directive (2011/7/EU) and of course, eInvoicing can only help meet this obligation. 

One further area for Governments to consider of course is early discounted payment of invoices. Why make suppliers wait 30 days for full payment if you can receive, process, approve an invoice in under 2 days? If the invoice is ready to pay – then why not offer early payment? 

As long as the discount is cheaper than the suppliers existing cost of borrowing then we at Taulia have found, the supplier chooses to be paid early.

“The report is a clear indication that the UK’s public sector cannot ignore the benefits of electronic invoicing. If nothing is done we will fall behind other countries and the consumer markets here in the UK. I was delighted the Minister for the Cabinet Office attended and welcomed the report at the launch, which is a clear indication of senior ministerial interest in the benefits of electronic invoicing.” – Stephen McPartland, MP for Stevenage.

At Taulia we welcome the findings of the inquiry, and of course as a leader in providing free eInvoicing services, we are particularly pleased to see SME inclusion as a priority. 

But they say the darkest hour is just before dawn – and therefore Taulia will continue its good work at the UKNeF and other groups to ensure eInvoicing becomes a standard business practise for everyone.

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