ReadSoft identifies UK local government could save £80m by improving invoice processing

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92.6% of all UK local authorities fail to meet industry standard for finance efficiency. Worst offenders paying 38 times the optimal rate for invoice processing.

“Our research shows there is a clear need for councils to address inefficiencies in the finance function. If they did, they would be able to reduce cuts to frontline services that all councils are currently facing.” Simon Shorthose, Managing Director,

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Research into local government authority accounts processing by ReadSoft, a specialist in document and back office automation, has revealed 92.6% of all authorities fail to achieve the industry benchmark for invoice processing.

The cost of processing a single invoice by a council’s accounts payable department should be no more than 79p. Yet the research shows some local councils incurring a cost per invoice in excess of £10, and the worst offending councils were spending £30.37 – 38 times what they should be paying.

On average the cost of processing one council invoice in the UK was £3.40. If authorities were to reach industry benchmarks, they would save £198,000 each year per council. Across the 404 local authorities questioned, that is an annual saving of £79.9m.

Simon Shorthose, Managing Director, ReadSoft UK said: “Our research shows there is a clear need for councils to address inefficiencies in the finance function. If they did, they would be able to reduce cuts to frontline services that all councils are currently facing.”    

Faced with reduced budgets and a freeze on capital expenditure, single tier, county and district councils can now apply the software as a service (SaaS) model to run invoice automation and save cost. ReadSoft Online is a Cloud based invoice and document processing solution that provides councils with a simple, no cost to set up, fully scalable means to drive efficiency.

“Automation of invoice processing in local authority finance departments is a sure fire way to save costs – in many cases it will also improve efficiency, meaning better cash flow for councils,” added Shorthose. “Councils have access to fast to deploy, flexible alternatives to expensive manual invoice management which so many authorities are still using.”

According to the Audit Commission*, UK councils are facing a reduction in government funding and local income leading to a cutting of services, the raising of charges and a clear need for increased efficiency.

Visit for more information on invoice automation.

For a calculation of an authority’s current level of efficiency please contact ReadSoft at info-UK(at)readsoft(dot)co(dot)uk

About the research:
Employing freedom of information, ReadSoft compared local government financial processes in the fiscal year 2010-2011. Of the 404 UK authorities which responded to the requests, 285 authorities supplied viable data for assessment.

To benchmark the authorities’ data the average cost of employing a finance officer in an accounts payable role was calculated to equate to £25,000 per annum

*Source: Tough Times, Council’s responses to a challenging financial climate – The Audit Commission November 2011

About ReadSoft
ReadSoft is a leading global provider of software solutions for Document Process Automation. ReadSoft’s software enables companies to automate document processes such as accounts payable processing, document capture, document sorting, and order to cash. ReadSoft is by far the world’s number one choice for automated invoice processing, especially into business systems from SAP and Oracle. Since the start in 1991, ReadSoft has grown to a worldwide group with operations in 16 countries on five continents and a network of local and global partners. The head office is located in Helsingborg, Sweden, and the ReadSoft share is traded on the NASDAQ OMX Nordic Exchange Small Cap list. For more information about ReadSoft, please visit

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