Is the UK public sector ready for the EU’s e-invoicing deadline?

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The UK public sector is preparing for a shift in its approach to e-invoicing. That’s thanks to EU Directive 2014/55/EU. The directive sets out how public sector organisations must be able to receive and process EU-compliant e-invoices from suppliers by 18th April 2020.

The directive aims to standardise invoice content, making the process simpler and more cost-efficient. But its implementation is contingent on the UK not leaving the EU without a deal. Whilst that scenario remains a possibility, the April 2020 deadline is fast approaching. Public sector organisations should take action to implement the directive, regardless of Brexit.

They could invest in systems and infrastructure that accepts various e-invoice file structures, although in reality not many suppliers will be able to generate these structures in the short to medium term, so they’ll continue to send data files as they do now (e.g. BASDA, cXML, PDF or one of the dozen or so other popular electronic invoicing file formats). With that in mind, the more the merrier. Organisations will benefit if they accept as many document types as possible. At the end of the day, PDF invoicing remains the most popular way to invoice, and this isn’t going to change overnight.

So, if you're a public sector organisation, how will the directive impact you on a practical level? And how can you manage the transition?

If one of your suppliers asks to send an EU compliant e-invoice, then you must be able to say yes. But it's not simply a case of putting technology in place to receive and upload a particular e-invoice file into your finance application. The CEN TC 434 working group – tasked with defining what an EU invoice should look like – came up with 3 variations: one based on EDI, one on XML and another on UBL. So, as a public sector organisation you must be able to accept all three. It’s complicated, but thankfully service providers such as CloudTrade can help you to manage the pain.

One key role of a service provider is to take the complexity out of invoicing, translating e-invoices (their content and structure) into a common data format at high speed and low cost. CloudTrade removes the complexity and stress from the process. By working alongside public sector clients, from councils to trusts, we’ve learned their pain points. And we’ve built solutions that take the strain out of implementation.


Are you ready for April 2020?

Join our free webinar with CloudTrade Client Director, Richard Manson. He will explain; what the EU directive means for the public sector, what existing public sector organisations have already achieved and the main options available to those yet to make a decision. 

Join Our Free Webinar



Take Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust for example:

“Within just 3 months, 65% of targeted invoices are being received electronically and directly into Newcastle’s processing environment within a couple of minutes of the supplier sending it.” 

- Iain Bestford, Assistant Director of Finance at Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

These results would not have been possible without our deep appreciation of the challenges and internal workings of the Trust.

Progress has already been made with the implementation of EU Directive 2014/55/EU. NHS organisations are rapidly adopting one implementation, namely the Pan European Public Procurement Online (PEPPOL). Adoption is accelerating, and we expect 250 NHS Trusts will be receiving PEPPOL invoices by the autumn. We’re proud that our technology is facilitating this transition and we’ll be talking about this a little more on the blog next week.

Implementation of directives is hard, especially in the public sector where budgets are tight. So it’s worth taking action to prepare for deadline day in a little over 9 months time. If you’d like to talk about this topic and how we can help, please do drop us a line. We’d love to hear from you.


Are you ready for April 2020_ - CTA Slide