The Welsh Government has been attacked for the amount of money spent on procurement cards, with purchases including cakes, yacht wear and items at Victoria’s Secret.
Spending by government staff on procurement cards averaged £1.5m a year between 2010-11 and 2015-16, with a total of £7.5m spent over five years. There were 237 active cards in 2015-16.
The figures, from a Freedom of Information request by Welsh Conservatives, show £103.91 was spent at Victoria’s Secret, £377.31 on iTunes subscriptions, £370.70 on yacht wear, £279.90 at ToysRUs and £1,569.10 on Welsh cakes. Details were provided of 12,648 transactions.
Nick Ramsay, Welsh Conservative shadow cabinet secretary for finance, said: “Huge sums of public money continue to be spent on Welsh Government credit cards, with staff having racked up £7.5 million in bills since 2011.
“While we accept that procurement cards have a role to play in reducing the bureaucratic cost of processing small claims, the number of staff with access to them continues to grow and some of the claims involved are eye-watering and require explanation.
“Millions of pounds are being spent on these cards, and the public needs to have confidence that the system isn’t being abused and that the taxpayer is getting value for money.”
A total of £1,450 was spent on accommodation at the Hotel New Otani in Tokyo and £9,043 at the Raffles hotel in Beijing.
Ramsay said: “While staff will legitimately require accommodation when travelling abroad, members of the public may question the need to stay in lavish hotels.
“These expenses need to be kept to reasonable levels and staff and ministers need to be mindful of what constitutes a necessary and legitimate expense."
A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “The use of procurement cards is common across all central government departments in the United Kingdom. They are an efficient way of ordering and paying for small value goods and services, and reduce administration costs. Procurement cards also provide flexibility, particularly when staff are travelling and last minute costs need to be incurred.
“All purchases made on procurement cards are reviewed and approved retrospectively by line managers, and subject to regular audit. As a result of our rigorous internal audit processes, we are content that transactions are in line with Welsh Government business objectives.
“The Victoria’s Secret expenditure was as a result of credit card fraud, and the spend has been returned.”
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