My argument is that whilst transparency from local councils is a good thing, I believe that £500 spending data hides a huge proportion of the spending undertaken by councils.
Under the Audit Commission Act a local elector can request any financial data under the “Public Right of Inspection“, this only occurs for one month per year. I requested a complete spending data list, including those invoices under £500.
Lancaster City Council between April 2010 to March 2011 spent:-
£30m with over 29000 transactions.
If the council had only released information over £500:-
£2.47m or 24000 items would not have been included.
Which represents 8.2% of the total spend but 83% of the total invoices.
In addition 867 items between £400-£500 = £385,000
So is setting a £500 “cap” on spending data the right thing to do?
Why do councils not have a search engine to search through invoices?
If Mr Pickles and Department for Communities and Local Government want transparency maybe we should think about what and how councils release their data.
|Lancaster City Council Spending Data search engine
(Created by me)