Most councils miss government deadline to put spending data online

Less than half of councils have so far put their spending data online, less than a month from a deadline given by local government minister Eric Pickles

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Less than half of councils have so far put their spending data online, less than a month from a deadline given by local government minister Eric Pickles.

Six months ago after coming into office Pickles said publishing the spending data would help councils become more transparent, and go some way to proving they were trying to reduce waste and duplication to save taxpayers money.

Local authorities were asked to get all of their spending data over £500 published online in "accessible formats" by the end of January, under a deadline that isn't legally enforceable.

Pickles says he wants senior pay, councillor expenses, minutes of meetings, and frontline service data to be included.

Pickles said so far about 145 councils - less than half - had already gone online with their data. He warned that "slow-coach councils" yet to act will "face tough questions from residents and tough action from him".

His department is listing the councils that say they have complied with the deadline on a government website (http://www.communities.gov.uk/localgovernment/transparency/localgovernmentexpenditure/), and a  "code of practice" is due to be published shortly.

Pickles said, "I would like to see every council make their New Year's resolution to cut more waste and fully open their books up to public scrutiny.

"I've started by calling for all expenditure over £500 to be put online by the end of the month, but councils should not stop there. They should also be willing to show senior and middle management salaries, councillor expenses, job recruitment, and minutes of council meetings."

Windsor & Maidenhead and Hammersmith & Fulham councils have recently deployed new systems to aid greater transparency of their spending.

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