Aug 2010 12

Today the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) published their departmental spend with suppliers for the 2009-10 financial year. It contains every transaction over £500, and is a huge step forward for transparency. It's something that we hope to see every department do, as taxpayers now have the opportunity to see what their money is spent on. DCLG have demonstrated that providing this level of transparency isn't too difficult a task for departments to handle – an excel spreadsheet with all of the data is available here.

Matthew Elliott, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said:

“It is extremely exciting to see the Department for Communities and Local Government leading the way on spending transparency. Taxpayers have a right to know how their money is spent and transparency can improve results. It both exposes corruption and enables greater scrutiny and broader involvement in decision making. Hopefully, over the coming months, other departments will follow the DCLG’s superb example.”

Throughout the day we will be operating a rolling blog as we uncover questionable, wasteful, expensive or just interesting items of spending. If any readers spot anything, feel free to leave your own examples in the comments.


Update: This has been a bitter-sweet day for taxpayers, all in all. On one hand, we've seen the gory details of some real waste in 2009-10; on the other you have to say that this level of transparency is absolutely fantastic for taxpayers, and kudos to DCLG. Other departments must follow suit. A few more to finish the day:

  • DCLG, Domestic Goods – Hemel Hempsted Laundry Co, £2,203
  • DCLG, Food – Majestic Wine Warehouse, £500
  • DCLG, Vehicle Hire – Sandown Limousines, £1,769
  • DCLG, Vehicle Hire – Gerrard Chaffeur Driver, £986
  • DCLG, Events Organisation – Exeter Racecourse, £782


  • Valuation Tribunal Service, Rail and Hotel Booking Services, £96,249
  • Planning Inspectorate, Clothing – Greenham, £34,385
  • Homes and Communities Agency, Clothing, £22,063


The total spent by the Homes and Communities Agency on Flowers was £12,975. They also spent £138,151 on catering and £420,663 on cleaning.

The department itself spent £49,369 on interpretation and translation services.


Update: The Audit Commission figures have now been published too.

  • Audit Commission, Financial Services – Fishburn Hedges, £14,804
  • Audit Commission, Technical Services – Connect Public Affairs, £38,696
  • Audit Commission, Unclassified – Merchandise Mania, £4,547
  • Audit Commission, Technical Services – Kantar £2,420
  • Audit Commission, Unclassified – Monty Rakusen's Studio (Bespoke Photography), £7,335
  • Audit Commission, Vehicle Maintenance – Auto Windscreens, £27,027


  • Tenant Services Authority, Building Management – Cliff's Flowers, £1,175
  • Government Offices for the Regions, Child Social Care, £95,485
  • Government Offices for the Regions, Healthcare, £15,800
  • Homes and Communities Agency, Marketing – Gran Paradiso, £724
  • Government Offices for the Regions, Financial Services – Advantage West Midlands, £74,660
  • London Thames Gateway Development Corporation, Strategic Consultancy – South East England Development Agency, £13,852


  • Housing Ombudsman Service, Building Management – The London Plant Company, £2,492
  • Government Offices for the Regions, Event Organisations – including hotels such as the Grosvenor and the Hilton, £215,306
  • Government Offices for the Regions, Staff Health and Safety – Fitness2Live Ltd, £95,002
  • Infrastructure Planning Commission, IT Support – Price Waterhouse Coopers, £242,336


We've added up the total amount given to SOLACE and SOLACE Enterprises – the association for local authority chief executives, similar to the ACPO organisation for police chiefs – and it looks like they received £104,227 in 2009-10.

  • Planning Inspectorate, Marketing, £241,511
  • Thurrock Thames Gateway Development Corporation, Marketing – London Communcations Agency £113,681
  • Thurrock Thames Gateway Development Corporation, Marketing – Pixelwork £111,600
  • London Thames Gateway Development Corporation, Legal Services – Various companies, £1,575,931


  • Fire Service College, Air – Al-Amaan Travel and Holidays, £1,555
  • Homes and Communities Agency, Unclassified – SOLACE Enterprises, £517
  • Government Offices for the Regions, Learning and Development Services – SOLACE Enterprises, £5,924
  • Ordnance Survey, Marketing and Media – SOLACE, £73,000 (total)
  • Tenant Services Authority, SOLACE, £2,932
  • Community Development Foundation, Advertising and Consultancy – SOLACE, £11,500


  • Valuation Tribunal Service, Rail & Hotel booking Services, £96,249
  • Standards Board for England, Staff Training – SOLACE Enterprises, £632
  • Standards Board for England, Events at Conferences – SOLACE Enterprises, £4,600
  • Standards Board for England, Staff Training – SOLACE, £575
  • Standards Board for England, Events at Conferences – SOLACE Enterprises, £546
  • Standards Board for England, Staff Training – SOLACE Enterprises, £632
  • Standards Board for England, Conference Networking – SOLACE Enterprises, £1,558
  • Standards Board for England, Conferences – SOLACE Enterprises, £546
  • Standards Board for England, Staff Training – SOLACE Enterprises, £1,265


  • DCLG, Strategic Consultancy – Faith Matters, £33,750
  • Standards Board for England, Train Fares, £72,577
  • Standards Board for England, Mobile Telephones, £15,265
  • Standards Board for England, Contract Staff, £252,660
  • Standards Board for England, Recruitment Advertising, £84,634
  • Standards Board for England, Accommodation Capita Business Travel, £16,395


  • DCLG, Events – Reubens Hotel (nr. Buckingham Palace), £17,000 (via Paul Waugh's blog)
  • DCLG, Strategic Consultancy – Smith Institute, £7,500
  • Infrastructure Planning Commission, Subscriptions Dir Strategy – European Policy Forum Ltd, £7,500


  • Community Development Foundation, Rail travel, £129,080
  • DCLG, Admin and Clerical – Faithwise Ltd, £108,018
  • DCLG, Clothing – Seton, £771
  • DCLG, Events Organisation – Box of Frogs, £800
  • DCLG, Strategic Consultancy – Faith Based Regeneration Network,
  • DCLG, Catering – Manchester United, £12,948


  • Thurrock Thames Gateway Development Corporation, Balloon Art Studio, £1,210
  • West Northamptonshire Development Corporation, Northampton Rugby Football Club Ltd – Print, £341.75
  • DCLG, Institute for Fiscal Studies – Research, £29,763
  • Government Offices for the Regions, Building Repair and Maintenance – Tropical Foliage, £1,196
  • Government Offices for the Regions, Accommodation – Blackpool Pleasure Beach, £539.75
  • Government Offices for the Regions, Staff Health and Safety – Stress Angels (Corporate Massage), £1,673

John is the Director of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, overseeing the work of the research, grassroots, campaign and media teams

  • unseen

    Odd one:
    Aren’t we supposed to be putting Iran under massive economic sanctions, rather than giving it cash?

  • Simon h

    Not sure if it’s in the data but how about Mr Pickles’ £70k Jag, replacing his predecessor’s Prius?

  • Andrew Ampers Taylor

    Simon, Not sure of the answer but, take a similarly built MP in Labour, Prescott – could they have been given jags as lesser cars might not be able to handle their weight?

  • Simon h

    Maybe they could travel in the back of a transit (and be loaded on by forklift truck, if necessary)?

  • david

    Fully support what you are trying to do, but in the interests of fairness, I must point out that from your 2.30pm update, Greenhams are a supplier of personal protective clothing (e.g. hard hats, protective footwear and high viz jackets) so it’s not unreasonable that planning inspectors, who spend a lot of time visiting building sites, might need this equipment.

  • John O’Connell

    Thanks for the comment, and for pointing this out – this is exactly why are keeping the rolling blog, and more broadly why transparency is so important.
    All the best,

  • david

    One other observation – it’s amazing how much goes to other public sector bodies. This is just recycling our taxpayers money round the system, each time no doubt taking a hefty “handling fee”.
    No doubt each receiving public sector body will also be using this to help meet their “income generation” targets too…..

  • YouCannotBeSerious!

    Given your keenness on transparency, any chance you could let us know who funds the Taxpayers Alliance? Just a thought.

  • team billy

    Who funds the Taxpayers Alliance?
    Not the taxpayer, that’s all that matters.

  • Stefano

    You are depressingly the online version of the Daily Mail. I would say that 99% of these people paid by CLG are hard working taxpayers that attempt their best to work to the system as well as they can. You make it hard for honest people to make a decent living. If we keep analysing spend then it may make you feel better but it’s what happens next that’s important. David makes the best point on this god awful blog that thinks it worthy of a ‘rolling blog’ and then doesn’t bother updating between 1430 and 1800. You obviously should get paid by CLG so you can afford a full time blogger to update the blog as regularly as you claim it will be.

  • Michael

    I agree with the TPA for revealing this data BUT when are they gonna go after the banks???
    Given that they have been subsidised with TAXPAYERS money? billions!
    Lets see the executive pay and perks for these ‘people’ please!

  • Jabba

    “I would say that 99% of these people paid by CLG are hard working taxpayers that attempt their best to work to the system as well as they can. You make it hard for honest people to make a decent living.”
    Oh yeah???
    So explain this then.
    “DCLG, Strategic Consultancy – Smith Institute, £7,500″
    Gordon Brown’s slush fund. Why are a government department giving his re-election slush fund seven and a half grand of our money??? Strategic Consultancy my @rse. Trying to earn an honest living, my @rse!!

  • Raoul

    Careful, Taxpayers Alliance, not all the bodies you (and the government) list are funded by the taxpayer. Do your research more thoroughly next time.

  • John O’Connell

    @ Raoul
    Thank you for your comment. We know which of the bodies listed are funded by the taxpayer, please see our extensive research on quangos:
    They are all public sector bodies and the rolling blog was meant to highlight interesting items of spending.
    All the best,

  • YouCannotBeSerious!

    So you won’t tell us who funds the Taxpayers Alliance. So much for transparency. What do you have to hide?

  • Matt

    We do know it was set up by a group of libertarian Conservatives.
    And that many of its financial supporters also support the Conservative party.
    And that many of the financial supporters of the Conservative party are tax evaders…. so really I wonder why they’re even bothered !

  • Matt

    What’s your point on these ?
    Audit Commission, Vehicle Maintenance
    Infrastructure Planning Commission, IT Support
    Everyone in the public sector should walk everywhere and document things on papyrus ?

  • franhill

    Love the controversy. How about everyone just working in the best interest of the country and its peoples – as a Single Unit?

  • Tony

    Who are they? Make you own minds up…

  • Michael

    The TPA is libertarian conservative,emphasising personal liberty, except for striking public sector workers that is, whom they wish to ban from striking.
    When will the TPA start looking at other taxpayer funded bodies, like the BANKS for example?

  • Brian Oxley

    Who funds the Taxpayers Alliance? Well I donate. I’m NOT a member of the Conservative Party nor have I found a way to avoid my taxes. I’m mearly a Taxpayer

  • Michael

    Looking forward to the TPA’s analysis of a massive taxpayer financed part of our economy:The Banks.
    Lets see the waste,the undeserved huge bonuses all at the expense of the taxpayer!
    and lets see the TPA criticise the banks like they have rightfully and commendably done with the public sector.
    Thats the real challenge for the TPA.
    are they up to it?
    Will they demonstrate that they really are there to represent the concerns of the taxpayer?
    As a taxpayer I am concerned about the use (or abuse)of taxpayers money,to prop up the banks.
    only time will provide an answer.

  • Matt

    Michael I could give you a quick ‘no’ and ‘no’ now if you like ? Would save the wait…
    Anyway why get worked up about several billions when you could be concentrating on 500 quid for an office party.

  • Michael

    you are probably right Matt,they need to concentrate on office parties etc

  • Matt

    Incidentally the blackpool bill relates to this:
    I wonder how much each of Cameron’s ‘meet-the-public’ missions costs…

  • Michael

    indeed,pity about the TPA NOT looking at the bankers,they arent working in the interest of taxpayers if they dont consider the bankers.

  • Sharon

    CLG catering spend at Manchester United Limited £12,948.50.

  • Tony

    RBS hospitality spend at Wimbledon for VIP suite 800k…..

  • Michael

    RBS = Robbing Blagging Scum

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