8 January 2010 | Isabel Palmer
UK public sector spending will be open to intense scrutiny under plans to publish data online.
The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) will make about £42 billion of council and local government quango spend information accessible to the public and suppliers from the summer.
Local spending reports will be produced and published on the DCLG website in the “places database”.
Communities secretary John Denham said he hoped this would improve transparency and identify shortcomings by shifting power to service users.
Potential cutbacks will be made in areas where there is evidence of inefficiency, waste and duplication in services. And it is hoped better data will encourage suppliers and individuals to suggest improvements for securing better value.
“Better, smarter data is crucial to driving down costs and increasing innovation. It will open the door to business and the third sector coming up with new solutions to old problems. Local spending reports are a key part of the government’s wider actions to transform public services in line with people’s expectations,” Denham said.
At the moment the spending reports exist as a series of Excel spreadsheets. From the summer they will be published online in a clearer format.
Denham said future reports will include: more up-to-date information; more detail on spending by quangos such as the Learning and Skills Council; and comprehensive details of grant payments from central to local government.
But speaking to SM, a DCLG spokeswoman admitted there was no guarantee the scheme will save money. She added that the department had no schedule for how often the information will be updated online.
When published, local spending reports could look like this.