Oxygen Finance

Case Study

Newcastle City Council’s FreePay Programme: Supporting the Local Economy

Newcastle City Council’s FreePay scheme has disbursed over £23 million to small and micro-businesses, aiding cash flow during the cost-of-living crisis.

The Challenge

Amid rising inflation and energy costs, small and micro-businesses in Newcastle faced financial strain. Late payments resulted in cash flow challenges, impacting their ability to sustain operations and growth.


Oxygen’s Solution

Newcastle City Council worked with Oxygen Finance to implement their FreePay programme, enabling invoices from local small and micro suppliers to be paid early without charge. This initiative alleviates small suppliers’ cash flow concerns, fostering business growth and creating social value through job creation.

Councillor Paul Frew highlighted the programme’s significance, stating, “As a council, one of our key priorities is supporting people through the cost-of-living crisis. This support extends to our local suppliers, ensuring that through our FreePay programme they receive accelerated payments, getting much-needed cash quickly during these difficult times. We’re proud to offer this service to support our local business community.”


Over 16,000 invoices paid early for free

Through FreePay, over 16,000 invoices have been expedited for free, benefiting more than 300 suppliers. Invoices are paid in less than half the contracted days, averaging just 8.5 days over the last three months, significantly reducing supplier reliance on loans or overdraft facilities.

The Council’s partnership with Oxygen Finance facilitated not only timely payments but also empowered larger businesses through the Supplier Incentive Programme, providing pre-agreed rebates based on accelerated payment timelines. This not only supported local businesses but also enabled the council to reinvest funds into vital local services.

Through these initiatives, Newcastle City Council has supported their SME supplier base as they navigate the cost-of-living crisis, fortifying the local business community and underlining the critical importance of early payments in sustaining and fostering economic growth.


“The Supplier Incentive Programme at Newcastle City Council is exceeding revenue targets; providing valuable income to the Council, whilst also helping us to support our supplier base and foster economic growth within the region. We’re particularly proud of our FreePay Programme which has accelerated over £23m to local, small suppliers, paid more than 16,000 invoices early for free, and improved cash flow for over 300 suppliers.”
Mark Nicholson, Chief Finance Officer, Newcastle City Council