July 2011 | Adam Leach
government departments should be subject to the same rules concerning spending
transparency as local authorities, according to the Local Government Association.
have to publish details of all their purchases above £500, but their
counterparts in central government are only required to disclose spending above
can't be right that the spending disclosure limit for government departments is
higher than the average annual wage,” said outgoing chairman of the LGA,
Baroness Eaton. “A pound is worth the same whether it is spent by the town hall
or Whitehall and the public has every right to know how civil servants are
spending their taxes.”
by the LGA found 12 of the 21 government departments – including the Cabinet
Office, which sets out the demands – were not reporting purchases above £500.
In contrast, only one of the 375 councils in England and Wales did not.
the different transparency thresholds, a spokeswoman for the Cabinet Office,
said: “We have intentionally been bolder and more radical in local government,
as local transparency is replacing top-down central inspection. Councils are
now subject to less Whitehall interference – but in return, there should be
even greater local accountability to the local press and public. We are already
the most transparent government ever. But there is more to do: we want to
publish more types of open data, and publish it in a way that can re-used for
the public good and be scrutinised more easily.”
departments that do publish purchases of £500 and above are: The Treasury, the
Department for International Development, the Department for Transport,
Government Equalities Office, the Department of Energy and Climate Change, the
Department for Culture, Media and Sport, the Wales Office, the Department for
Business Innovation and Skills, and the Department for Communities and Local Government.