Eric Pickles has announced that the Department for Communities and Local Government, which he heads, will publish all items of spending over £250. They previously only published items over £500.
I thought it would be interesting to have a look at a month’s published figures. So I looked at the figures for June 2012.
Most of the spending is grants to local authorities, and of course Mr Pickles has been onto that pretty hard, with local councils squealing in protest. Of the rest, there is lots of stuff like photocopiers and electricity and so on that you can’t really check if you aren’t in the department.
I did find, though, this item:
Expense type: Revenue support grant payable
Expense area: Localism
Supplier: Improvement and Development Agency for Local Government
That’s for one month, remember.
So just who are the IDA for Local Government?
According to their website, this is what they do:
LG Improvement and Development (formerly the IDeA) supports improvement and innovation in local government, focusing on the issues that are important to councils and using tried and tested ways of working.
We work with councils in developing good practice, supporting them in their partnerships. We do this through networks, online communities of practice and web resources, and through the support and challenge provided by councillor and officer peers.
We also help develop councillors in key positions through our leadership programmes. Regional Associates work closely with councils in their areas and support the regional improvement and efficiency partnerships (RIEPs).
“Networks, online communities of practice and web resources, and support and challenge provided by councillor and officer peers”, eh?
Looks like Mr Pickles still has quite a bit to get his teeth into. The total cost to the DCLG over 12 months of this pointless quango is £29 million.
What a shame the Telegraph chose to concentrate on the £17.95 they spent at McDonalds.
Incidentally, as far as I can see from the DCLG website, they have been publishing all amounts over £250 since May, so Mr Pickles’ announcement of transparency is not new.
But what about other government departments? A similar breakdown for the NHS or the Ministry of Defence really would be interesting.