Good news for armchair auditors (and therefore taxpayers.) The Department for Communities and Local Government now publishes all items of spending over £250. The previous threshold was £500 which the DCLG has published since August 2010.
The lower threshold means that items such as travel expenses, publications, office supplies and mobile phone bills are more likely to come on the radar. Labour Ministers and their officials wined and dined at some of the finest restaurants in the country using the Government Procurement Card at taxpayers’ expense, including Boisdales, Somerset House, the National Gallery, the Wolseley and the Cinnamon Club and Sky City casino in New Zealand.
The Audit Commission’s wining and dining included taking out the National Audit Office for the finest meals and drinks, with the national spending watchdog reciprocating with fining dining for the Audit Commission. This spending watchdogs mutual dining included L’Escargot, Qurinale, Ebury Wine Bar, Wiltons and the Footstool.
Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said:
"The transparency revolution is far from over. Local government and Whitehall can go further in reducing waste.
"I firmly believe the more open we are about spending the more we can root out waste, avoid duplication and increase value for money for taxpayers.
" For thirteen years Labour ministers enjoyed taxpayer funded dinners at the Wolsey and quangos wined and dined each other on the public purse.
"Every member of the public has a right to know and a right to challenge how their hard earned cash is being spent by government.
"Our quest for greater transparency has led us to set a new marker in the sand- from today our books will be open right down to 250 pounds."
I understand that the extra admin cost of providing the extra data is negligible as the system is already in place. This raises the prospect that the threshold couold be lowered to nought. It is also a pretty good bet that councils will be asked to follow in halving their spending threshold to £250.