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Dispute over cash owed for work on epidemic

Jul 20 2004

Steve Dube, The Western Mail

THREE years after the foot-and-mouth epidemic the Government has admitted that 53.3m of invoices remain outstanding for businesses that helped control the disease.

In an answer to a question by Henry Bellingham, Conservative MP for Norfolk North West, Alun Michael, Minister of State for Rural Affairs, said Defra is disputing 53.3m of charges from contractors who worked during the 2001 epidemic.

Nick Goulding, chief executive of the Forum for Private Business, which has campaigned to encourage Defra to settle outstanding invoices, said, "While we are fully supportive of the department protecting the public purse, we call on Defra to do its level best to finally bring to a close the lingering effects of the crisis by settling all outstanding legitimate invoices as quickly and fairly as possible."