Eric Pickles today continued his drive for transparency in Government by publishing his department’s spending over £500, and called for councils to follow suit in opening up their books. Such openness will increase democratic accountability and help councils cut wasteful spending.
The sunlight of openness may be uncomfortable for some, but it will expose how taxpayers’ money is being wasted and help protect frontline services and keep council tax down.
In the latest in a series of transparency initiatives, the Department for Communities and Local Government have published their spending over £500 online for the second quarter of 2010-11 (July-September) - allowing the public to scrutinise how taxpayer’s money has been spent.
Today, every central government department will be publishing data above £25,000 from November to shine a spotlight on spend and root out waste and duplication. However, having set the bar at £500 for town halls, Mr Pickles believes his own department should play by those same rules and has acted ahead of deadline to start regularly publishing its figures at the lower limit, including publishing information for the last two years.
Although these figures cover the period since the new Government took office, much of the spend in this quarter relates to commitments made by the previous administration, as the figures reflect when an invoice is received from the supplier, rather than when the actual expenditure was incurred. Some ongoing expenditure is also tied into long-term contracts signed by the previous administration.
Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, said:
It is essential that both Whitehall and every town hall can justify to the taxpayer every penny they spend and that’s why my department is leading the way in publishing all our spending over £500.
What I now want to see is every local authority opening their books up to the public gaze, to increase accountability and help save money. The sunlight of openness may be uncomfortable for some, but it will expose how taxpayers’ money is being wasted and help protect frontline services and keep council tax down.
Notes to editors
Detail of all Communities and Local Government spending on goods and services over £500 for the period July to September 2010 can be found at: www.communities.gov.uk/publications/corporate/spendingdata1011q2.
Spending for the period April 2008 to April 2009 can be found at: www.communities.gov.uk/publications/corporate/spendinggrantdata0809 and www.communities.gov.uk/publications/corporate/spendingprocurementdata0809.
Spending for the period April 2009 to April 2010 can be found at: www.communities.gov.uk/publications/corporate/spendingdata0910 and www.communities.gov.uk/publications/corporate/spendinggrantdata0910.
From November, data for the Department for Communities and Local Government and Arms Length Bodies will be published monthly via CLG website and www.data.gov.uk (external link).
In June, Eric Pickles asked local councils to publish any spend over £500 online by January 2011. Newsroom: Eric Pickles - New era of transparency will bring about a revolution in town hall openness and accountability.
To date, 100 councils have done so, and made their books available to the public. To find out which councils have already put their spending data online please visit www.communities.gov.uk/localgovernment/transparency/localgovernmentexpenditure.
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