In a significant move towards transparency, accountability and openness, the Department for Communities and Local Government today published details on every item of Departmental spending on goods and services over £500 in 2009/10. This shows how £314 million of taxpayer money was spent on 1900 separate items. Its Arms Length Bodies will follow suit giving details of another £337million of spending.
Going forward, in September the Department will publish spending data for the first quarter of 2010/11, with second quarter data following by the end of October. From November, spend data will be published monthly by 15th working day of every month via CLG website and www.data.gov.uk.
As you may know, Local Authorities will also be expected to publish details of their spending over £500 from next January, and the Local Public Data Panel have been working up the guidance for this. Twenty eight Local Authorities have already done so and are listed on the CLG website, and new authorities will be added as they publish. This and more detail can be found at www.communities.gov.uk/localgovernment/transparency/localgovernmentexpenditure/.
All central government departments will be required to publish spending over £25,000 online from November 2010. In order to provide an example to Local Authorities, CLG has gone early and matched Local Authorities lower £500 threshold, the first government department to make such a move.
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.