Nationwide research carried out by the Forum of Private Business into the speed at which councils in England pay supplier invoices saw Waverley take a podium position, finishing third overall nationally.
The Forum study revealed the authority paid 94.2% of its suppliers in less than 10 days – a target the Government has asked all councils to aim for to help struggling firms improve their cash flow. It was only just pipped by Tonbridge and Malling (97.1%) and South Northamptonshire (96.1%).
Jeremy Hunt MP agreed to hand over a certificate from the Forum – a not-for-profit small business support group – to Cllr Robert Knowles, Leader of Waverley Borough Council, to honour the achievement.
"To be recognised as one of the top performing councils for prompt payment of suppliers by the Forum of Private Business is something everyone at Waverley is rightly proud of," said Cllr Knowles.
"This significant achievement has not happened overnight. Almost four years ago Waverley began striving to support businesses during the tough economic times by paying bills promptly. It started with an aim of paying all local suppliers within ten working days and any invoices within 30 days.
"The Forum of Private Business award acknowledges that this has now risen to a remarkable rate of 94.2 per cent of all invoices in less than 10 days, which is a fantastic achievement. It shows that Waverley values local businesses and understands their needs."
Spokesman for the Forum, Robert Downes, said: "Research by Bacs has shown that there's always around £37 billion of unpaid invoices swilling around the supply chain. If only all councils could pay as fast as Waverley we could reduce that figure.
"Of course Waverley has done brilliantly well to achieve this figure – they are a true beacon of prompt payment best practice. The private sector could learn a lot from their example, as could others in the public sector," he added.
Business Secretary Vince Cable, whose department has asked councils to pay in under 10 days, said of the new: "Businesses need a steady cash flow to survive and grow, and late payment remains a real issue for many businesses, particularly SMEs. While we are continuing to work alongside industry bodies in the UK to encourage more businesses to sign up to the Prompt Payment Code, it is important that the public sector lead by example."
He added: "I strongly welcome the progress that has been made by local authorities in paying suppliers on time as it will free up millions of pounds in the supply chain, helping to boost the economy and safeguard the future of thousands of UK companies."
Jeremy Hunt, who handed over the certificate at an event at the council's offices last Friday, said: "Congratulations to Waverley Borough Council for being one of the best local authorities in the country at promptly paying their bills within ten days.
"This is crucial in ensuring that businesses are paid for their services quickly and efficiently and helps keep smaller businesses afloat. Keep up the good work!"
MP Jeremy Hunt did the honours at an awards ceremony which recognised Waverley Borough Council as one of the country's fastest paying local authorities.