Pickles shows us the money

By politics.co.uk staff

Communities secretary Eric Pickles has opened up his department’s books to “armchair auditors”, in a major step towards government transparency.

All spending in the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) over £500 has been released online, ahead of similar transparency in councils later this year.

Information for 2009/10 amounts to £314 million of spending by the DCLG and a further £337 million by departmental quangos – significantly less than many of the larger government departments.

“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,” Mr Pickles said.

“The public and the press can go through the books and hold ministers to account for how taxpayers’ money is being spent.”

The information published reveals spending of nearly £635,000 on taxis and cars and nearly £310,000 on catering and food, Public Service reported.

“Greater openness in spending is the best way to root out waste, spot duplication and increase value for money,” Mr Pickles added.

“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.”