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Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Government spending data released

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An unprecedented amount of detail about Government spending has been released

An unprecedented amount of detail about Government spending has been released as the coalition pushed ahead with its transparency agenda.

Among the revelations in an itemised list of expenditure was a £26,000 bill for training staff at the Cabinet Office to have “difficult conversations”.

There have also been nearly £55,000 of “accommodation improvements” in the Prime Minister’s Office, according to the data.

Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude hailed the disclosure of Government spending above £25,000 as “revolutionary” and urged the public to hold the coalition’s “feet to the fire” by pointing out waste.

Some departments, including Communities and Local Government (CLG), have gone further by listing all outlay above £500.

“It is our ambition to make the UK the most transparent and accountable Government in the world,” Mr Maude said. “This will not always be easy but we expect the public to hold our feet to the fire and make sure that not a penny of their money is wasted.”

Mr Maude acknowledged that much of the data being released was raw or incomplete, and some information could not be published for national security or commercial reasons. But he insisted the format would be improved over time.

Details of government spending above £25,000 will be released monthly from now on, he added.

The new material disclosed covers the six months from May, when the coalition came to power. However, Cabinet Office aides stressed many of the costs would have been incurred under the Labour government due to the time lag for invoices to be presented and paid.

On June 16 the Cabinet Office paid £26,302.68 to Berkshire Consultancy Ltd for a “difficult conversation workshop”. The sum was charged to the department’s Intelligence Security and Resilience function. The firm’s website says the training is designed to help staff have “increased confidence and ability to have difficult conversations at all levels”.

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