While the requirement to publish procurement spending on items over £500 is a great advance it only covers a minority of Council spending. Most of the money goes on staff. So we need to know not just how many staff a Council employs but to know what they do.
This is something that the Government is likely to introduce in due course. But I am proud that my own council, Hammersmith and Fulham, has already made public this information. We have produced Department organisation charts showing in detail just who does what. No doubt it can be refined but I think we are the first council to have done this.
The Taxpayers Alliance are pleased although they would like to go further and have information on each employee by job description rather than just how many work in each section. They say:
We said that public bodies subject to the code should publish a complete list of job titles and job descriptions of every single member of staff. We don’t think it’s necessary to publish remuneration details of staff on junior salaries. But it is important that taxpayers know what staff are employed to do and how many there are doing certain things. Publication of this information would surely lead to more informed debate about priorities in council spending which, in turn, would lead to more care in recruitment and staff allocation.
Hammersmith & Fulham council have made a great step forward in this area of their own accord, publishing detailed structure charts with every single job title. A win for transparency which other councils should emulate, but even they could go further, as our proposal for including job descriptions shows. DCLG and Hammersmith & Fulham should both be congratulated for their moves toward greater openness and transparency. But we should insist on HR transparency across the board and we hope that DCLG include our proposal in their final document.