Account books opened as Pickles continues to show public the money

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles continues to trailblaze transparency today by publishing more departmental spending and setting out new austerity…

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles continues to trailblaze transparency today by publishing more departmental spending and setting out new austerity action.

In the first of regular updates Communities and Local Government has published spend over £500 online for the first quarter of 2010-11 (April-June).

With every central government department required to publish data above £25,000 from November Mr Pickles is moving ahead of the game to shine a spotlight on spend. Having set the bar at £500 for town halls, Mr Pickles also believes his own department should play by those same rules.

New cost-saving ideas for thriftier future

The Secretary of State also set out series of cost-saving measures being implemented at the Department from cutting printers, to turning the heating down to closing the Department’s HQ. The ideas submitted by staff are part of identified £780m savings across the CLG budget for 2010-11.

The money saving ideas, submitted by staff, include:

  • New compliance rules to ensure staff always use public transport and standard class on trains;
  • An end to refreshments for internal staff meetings and any meeting under four hours;
  • Cancellation of non-essential newspaper and magazine subscriptions;
  • A reduction in staff Blackberries and mobile phones;
  • Cutting down on first-class post;
  • Switching off a number of lifts during quiet periods;
  • Plans to limit the number of printers and limiting photocopiers to one per floor;
  • Plans to close CLG’s HQ overnight and at weekends; and
  • Trial turning heating down to save energy and expense.

Eric Pickles said:

Being open about how taxpayers’ money is spent will push central and local government into rooting out waste and duplication. That’s why we’re throwing open the shutters and bringing the full glare of the public’s eye onto spending.

This new transparent era means a new way of thinking for councils but I’m showing them it’s possible by publishing more of my department’s spending online. I can’t expect councils to cut waste if we don’t get our own house in order. Today I’m implementing the best austerity ideas from CLG staff from cutting catering, to only using second-class stamps to more double-sided printing. These show there are thriftier and smarter ways to use taxpayers’ money in the future.

The whole country has to play its part as we tackle a mountain of inherited debt. By publishing this data we invite an army of armchair auditors to scrutinise where their money goes and make sure it is spent on the right priorities. I want town halls to do the same so the public have local spending at their fingertips.

Departmental spending has also been published today for 2008/09 for over £500 and for spending over £1000 for Arms Length Bodies (ALBs). Last month spending details over £500 for 2009/10 were published.

Books opened to reveal more Whitehall local spending data

In addition central government departments and ALBs are expanding the data made available relating to expenditure in local areas through a free to use website. The public can now find datasets on local spending by searching for local-spend-data on government’s central data portal (external link).