The results of Eric Pickles’ austerity drive at the communities department are laid bare today: any spending over £500 is being published.
Pickles says that the receipts are evidence of ministers and officials “going on a spending spree with other’s people’s money” on the nation’s credit card.
So far I’m not entirely convinced that the results are proof of an endemic culture of frivolous spending. You are allowed to disagree.
The annual £635,000 spent on taxis and cars will no doubt be slashed, rightly. I’m also told there is a £75,000 payment by the Homes and Communities Agency to a sculptor, which doesn’t seem the best use of public funds (trying to find out more about this).*
Thousands of pounds have been spent on an event at a luxury hotel (instead of the department’s own conference centre) while more money was used to massage stressed staff (not uncommon in the private sector). But what was the £13,000 spent on Manchester United catering costs?
UPDATE: Tom Watson has backed the drive. Labour don’t want to be caught defending anything that smacks of public waste.
* The HCA says that the commission was for a miners’ memorial in Sunderland as part of a wider £27m regeneration project.