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Councils to publish expenditure

June 6, 2010

Forwarded by Cllr. Ken Smith

5 June 2010 01:02am

Town halls have been told to publish details of every item of expenditure over £500 to remove the “veil of secrecy” over the finances of local authorities.

Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles wrote to all councils demanding that such spending should be made available to the public on the internet by September.

Local authorities are also urged to publish senior staff salaries, councillors’ expenses and service data such as council tax collection rates.

Mr Pickles said greater transparency would help ensure that money was better spent by allowing taxpayers to scrutinise how it was being used.

“There is a need to banish the veil of secrecy and revolutionise local government,” he said. “Local people should be able to hold politicians and public bodies to account over how their hard-earned cash is being spent and decisions made on their behalf.

“They can only do that effectively if they have the information they need at their fingertips.”

He said that the public should be able to see what they were getting for their taxes.

“The swift and simple changes we are calling will unleash an army of armchair auditors and quite rightly make those charged with doling out the pennies stop and think twice about whether they are getting value for money,” he said.

The move is part of a wider Government drive to improve transparency about how taxes are spent.

On Friday, the Treasury released the Combined On-line Information System – known as Coins – which gives a detailed breakdown of public spending decisions over the past five years. It is one of a raft of Whitehall databases David Cameron has ordered to be made public as part of the new coalition Government’s commitment to greater openness.

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