Communities Secretary Eric Pickles is today continuing to open up the Government accounts to the public and set out new austerity procedures for his department.
In the first of regularly planned updates Communities and Local Government has published spend over £500 online for the first quarter of 2010-11 (April-June) - allowing the public to scrutinise how £125m of taxpayer money was spent.
Every central government department will be required to publish data above £25,000 from November to shine a spotlight on spend and root out waste and duplication. Having set the bar at £500 for town halls, Mr Pickles believes his own department should play by those same rules and is acting ahead of deadline to start regularly publishing its figures.
Future thrift as Department gets house in order
The Secretary of State also revealed new austerity actions, in the form of a series of simple measures, his department is taking to cut waste and bring spending down. These cost saving measures 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
- 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 data.gov.uk. The data now available for 2007/08 and 2008/09 includes expenditure on benefits, breakdown of revenue expenditure by Primary Care Trusts, Strategic Health Authorities and NHS trusts and grants by Home Office to Drug Action Teams with more datasets available over the coming weeks.
All of the local spending data has been tagged with local-spend-data. The Cabinet Office have announced that anyone can make suggestions about which datasets they wish to see be made public by going to www.data.gov.uk/data (external link) and clicking on the ‘request new data’ button.
Notes to editors
Detail of all Communities and Local Government spending on goods and services over £500 for the period April to June 2010 can be found at: www.communities.gov.uk/publications/corporate/spendingdata1011. 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.
In October Communities and Local Government will publish spending data for the second quarter of 2010/11. From November, data for Communities and Local Government and Arms Length Bodies will be published monthly via CLG website and www.data.gov.uk (external link).
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