Communities Secretary Eric Pickles wants to mobilise an army of armchair auditors as he opens up the Department for Communities and Local Government’s books to public scrutiny.
All spending on goods and services over £500 has been put online. The information for 2009 to 2010 details £314 million of spending by the department and £337 million by departmental quangos.
In a move that signals a new era in central government transparency taxpayers can how see how their money is being spent, what was purchased, for how much and from whom.
Leading the charge for transparency
The Department for Communities and Local Government is leading the charge in establishing a new kind of government where the public have a right to know and a right to challenge. The publication of £500 spending data comes ahead of all councils doing so later this year.
Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said:
“Greater openness in spending is the best way to root out waste, spot duplication and increase value for money. That is why I have been asking councils to ‘show me the money’ so local taxpayers can see where their hard earned cash is going.
“Now it’s our turn. I don’t believe in one rule for councils and one for this department. Central government spends billions of tax pounds every year and transparency at this level of spending is just as important.
“This department, like the rest of Whitehall, needs to look at where every penny is going and getting this data out in the open will help that process.
“The simple task of putting spending online will open the doors to an army of armchair auditors who will be able to see at a glance exactly where millions of pounds spent last year went. The public and the press can go through the books and hold Ministers to account for how taxpayers’ money is being spent.
“The data is already highlighting how we need to do things differently. That means spending more carefully, getting better deals and asking ourselves at every turn whether every purchase is needed and whether it provides value for the taxpayers’ pound. Looking at last year’s spending it is clear that there is room for improvement.”