Armchair auditors will be able to hold their councils to account over how they spend parking profits, clamp down on fraud and collect household rubbish as part of a new wave of town hall transparency, ushered in by Local Government Minister Kris Hopkins today (3 October 2014).
This government is strengthening the public’s ability to scrutinise local councils by ensuring they get the data they deserve through the local government transparency code so they can play a bigger role in the local democratic decision making process.
Ministers believe people should be able to hold local councils to account about the services they provide. But to do this, the public needs information about what decisions local councils are taking, and how local councils are spending public money.
Ministers have already ended the Audit Commission’s top-down inspection for local government and are replacing it with new local arrangements for auditing councils. Today, they extended the transparency code and announced it will become a legal requirement for councils to help taxpayers scrutinise their work.
Local Government Minister Kris Hopkins said:
Greater power for local government must go hand in hand with greater local transparency and local accountability. Therefore it is only right we give Council Tax payers the data they deserve to play a bigger role in local democracy.
This new wave of town hall transparency will empower armchair auditors right across the land to expose municipal waste and ensure councils are making the sensible savings necessary to freeze Council Tax and protect frontline services.
For instance, opening up parking profits to the eyes of local democracy will protect residents from the risk of being treated as cash cows by trigger-happy town hall traffic wardens and expose councils using parking policies in an unlawful way.
This open data push will ensure information published by councils in the name of local transparency and accountability is made even more accessible. The new law will come into force in early November when councils will also be obliged to publish details of contracts and all land and building assets they are sitting on as well as subsidies given to trade unions including so-called ‘facility time’.
This government believes the availability of data not only boosts transparency and accountability but can also support local economic growth by opening up new markets for local businesses, the voluntary and community sectors and social enterprises to run services or manage public assets.
See the transparency code for local government on this website.