Council budgets and spending Supplier payments

No PO No Pay policy – information for suppliers

We implemented a system with 'No Purchase Order (PO) No Pay' capability on 1 April 2019.  With effect from 1 April 2021 it will be mandatory for all suppliers and contractors providing goods and services to us to quote a valid PO number generated from this finance system on all invoices submitted to us. This approach applies to all suppliers/contractors.

In some very exceptional circumstances, an exemption to this requirement for certain types of payment can be obtained, but only through written agreement from the director of finance, governance and assurance (Section 151 Officer).

We're committed to prompt payment of valid invoices in accordance with contractual agreements. In order to ensure that we're able to process payments to suppliers in accordance with our payment terms, suppliers should comply with the following guidance on the submission of invoices.

Failure to comply will result in invoices being automatically rejected and potentially cause delays in payment.


Why does Shropshire Council have a No PO No Pay Policy?

The policy allows us to manage expenditure and ensure that it's authorised at the point of order, in accordance with our financial and procurement rules. This improves the efficiency of the end-to-end procure-to-pay process, and ensures that we can consistently maintain a prompt approach to paying for goods, services and works which have been ordered in accordance with approved processes.


What do I need to do as a supplier?

If you're a supplier to us, please ensure that you always receive a PO number prior to the shipment of goods or delivery of services or works to us. Please ensure that all invoices are submitted electronically for payment to: and contain a valid PO number that relates to the goods or services supplied on the invoice. Any invoices without an official PO number will be returned to you and could result in a delay of payment.

We appreciate that it may take time in some areas to adapt to this new approach, but once implemented consistently the move will make a real difference to our ability to manage payment processes more efficiently in all areas.

What is a valid PO number?

Valid Shropshire Council PO numbers issued from the finance system are eight digits long and begin with the number two. The standard procedure is for the PO to be raised electronically by your relevant council contact and emailed directly to the supplier.

What should I do if I don’t receive a PO?

You should only accept an order when a valid PO is provided. If you receive an order from a member of council staff without a valid PO number, you should ask the member of staff to provide one before proceeding with the order.

How and where should invoices be sent for payment?

All invoices should be sent electronically in PDF format to and contain a valid PO number that relates to the goods or services supplied on the invoice.

Please be advised that paper invoices will no longer be accepted.

What are the requirements for the invoice PDF?

PDF documents can only be processed if they meet the following criteria:

  • PDFs must be one PDF to one invoice / credit as each file is treated as a new document.
  • The PDF must not have security applied, as these files can't be read by the system.
  • Documents other than invoice- / credit-related PDF files (eg T&Cs, statements) shouldn't be sent to the dedicated email address as the system will unnecessarily accept these too.
  • The PDF must be attached to the original email and not embedded as part of a forwarded email.
  • The dedicated inboxes are not manually monitored and therefore supplier queries or questions etc won't be dealt with.
  • It's highly recommended that any scanned PDF documents are of a minimum resolution of 300dpi. This helps to ensure consistent and accurate extraction of data from the images.
  • It’s also recommended that the PDF file size be kept as low as possible, typically less than 150KB. This is to reduce the reliance on bandwidth usage and to speed up processing.
  • The system will not accept any other format of documents, eg jpegs or tiff files.

If you send an invalid attachment to the email address, an email notification will be sent back to the email address that sent the invalid attachment informing them of this.

What is a valid invoice?

There are specific guidelines for invoicing – failure to follow these guidelines could result in a delay in processing your invoice.

Invoices must:

  • Meet all requirements as advised by HM Revenue and Customs
  • Provide the name and address of the person/organisation submitting the invoice
  • Provide company and VAT registration numbers where applicable
  • Provide bank details (either on invoice or prior to submitting the invoice) as we'll only make payment by BACS
  • Provide an email address to which the remittance can be sent
  • Quote a valid council purchase order (PO) number
  • Provide contact details in case of invoice query
  • Provide clear details of the goods, services or works provided
  • Have a valid invoice date (tax point date)
  • Ensure all amounts are accurate and reconcile to the invoice total
  • Have the correct VAT calculations (handwritten invoices in particular)
  • Be clear, concise and readable
  • Have the relevant supporting information attached, for example timesheets

Invoices that don't comply with the above will be returned to you for correction/clarification.

What happens to an invoice when it reaches the council?

All invoices will be processed centrally by electronic means, resulting in, where possible, a touch-less process. All invoices will be processed through our scanning software. Where an invoice matches the purchase order quoted, and the products, services or works have been provided and ‘receipted’ in our system, the invoice will be automatically paid on the due date.

What should I do if I didn't receive a PO number and the invoice is returned to me?

You should contact the member of staff who gave the original instruction to supply the goods, services or works and ask them to provide a valid PO number. When a valid PO number is obtained you should send a replacement invoice, quoting the valid PO number to

When will I receive payment of my invoice?

Invoices received with a valid PO number will then be paid in line with our standard terms of payment, normally 30 days from the date of a valid invoice. However, this may vary in some contracts. Suppliers should ensure that they're aware of any alternative contractual terms for payment that have been agreed with us.

What should I do if I've sent an invoice quoting a valid PO number and my payment appears to be delayed?

Invoices may be disputed for a number of valid reasons. This may include, but is not limited to:

  • PO number quoted doesn't match the issued PO
  • PO number quoted on invoice is closed or complete
  • Invoice quantities, description, dates or pricing do not match those on the quoted PO number
  • Disputes over the goods or services provided

If your invoice has been delayed beyond the expected payment terms agreed, you should contact the member of council staff you agreed the PO with to request that the delay is investigated and a response provided to you.

What happens if an invoice is rejected?

If an invoice fails to match to a PO, this will be returned to the supplier. Similarly, if the invoice is unreadable it will also be returned.

If the invoice contains errors, the person or team who have raised the PO will contact the supplier to resolve any discrepancies; this may result in a request for a new invoice to be submitted.

Where we're aware that invoices are invalid, incorrect or can't be matched with POs we'll try to notify the supplier as soon as possible.

Who should I contact if I have any queries about the No PO No Pay Policy?

If you have any further queries regarding this policy, please contact: or