Government release departmental spending over £25,000

November 19, 2010 10:45 AM

The Cabinet Office has released all departmental spending over £25,000 since the Coalition Government came to power. As long-time advocates of spending transparency, we’re naturally pleased with this. Taxpayers deserve to know how their money is spent and we’re finally starting to see some useful spending data to help generate accountability. The spreadsheets are in the same format so users can manipulate the data and group types of expenditure together, which is a huge improvement on past releases. We’ve heard one or two complaints that some of the items are a little unclear so some more descriptive and less esoteric accounting procedures would be welcome but overall it’s a very positive step and the type of thing we’d love to see more of.

Our Director Matthew Sinclair was on Radio 4’s Today programme this morning (8.55 am) discussing the Government’s measures with David Walker, former Head of Communications with the Audit Commission. While Mr Walker didn’t say publishing this data was a bad thing, he was more sceptical of the Government having to itemise their spending. This is something that that is done routinely for American Federal spending on data.gov and many states also publish full spending data, so there is absolutely no reason why it cannot be done here. It’s our money, after all.

Selected professional data handlers were given these data sets a week in advance and some interesting graphics have been put together. It shows what can be done when the Government puts the numbers out there.

Below is a selection of some of the more interesting, eyebrow raising examples we have found skimming the data this morning. We would like to hear about some more from readers too. Use this link to access the raw data provided by the Cabinet Office and if anything catches your eye feel free to post the items below.

Equality and Human Rights Commission, September only

  • £7,019.74 for a car for the Chair and Chief Executive



  • Another £1,899.46 under the category "Taxis"



  • £11,985.00: communications - external affairs - research from 8hwe Limited.  They are the "UK's first and leading dedicated message development agency" and report that because "of the sensitive nature of much of our work, which often involves crisis and reputation management" they choose not to name their clients.  They also say that they work for government on "strategy development and implementation, behaviour change, modelling and segmentation, scenario planning and consumer insight."



  • Nearly £650,000 under the category "Rent". Another £3,991.24 to Norton Rose for Business Rates.


Department for Energy and Climate Change

  • £19,699 for car hire and leasing for ministerial team and parliamentary support



  • £41,779 for overseas hotels in June and £45,560 in August


Central Office of Information

  • £23,250 on agency staff in August alone



  • £ 30,457.58 on the expense area “cultural diversity” in one month alone


National Offender Management Service

  • Around £15.8 million on Contact ICT Maintenance in June alone

The Cabinet Office has released all departmental spending over £25,000 since the Coalition Government came to power. As long-time advocates of spending transparency, we’re naturally pleased with this. Taxpayers deserve to know how their money is spent and we’re finally starting to see some useful spending data to help generate accountability. The spreadsheets are in the same format so users can manipulate the data and group types of expenditure together, which is a huge improvement on past releases. We’ve heard one or two complaints that some of the items are a little unclear so some more descriptive and less esoteric accounting procedures would be welcome but overall it’s a very positive step and the type of thing we’d love to see more of.

Our Director Matthew Sinclair was on Radio 4’s Today programme this morning (8.55 am) discussing the Government’s measures with David Walker, former Head of Communications with the Audit Commission. While Mr Walker didn’t say publishing this data was a bad thing, he was more sceptical of the Government having to itemise their spending. This is something that that is done routinely for American Federal spending on data.gov and many states also publish full spending data, so there is absolutely no reason why it cannot be done here. It’s our money, after all.

Selected professional data handlers were given these data sets a week in advance and some interesting graphics have been put together. It shows what can be done when the Government puts the numbers out there.

Below is a selection of some of the more interesting, eyebrow raising examples we have found skimming the data this morning. We would like to hear about some more from readers too. Use this link to access the raw data provided by the Cabinet Office and if anything catches your eye feel free to post the items below.

Equality and Human Rights Commission, September only

  • £7,019.74 for a car for the Chair and Chief Executive



  • Another £1,899.46 under the category "Taxis"



  • £11,985.00: communications - external affairs - research from 8hwe Limited.  They are the "UK's first and leading dedicated message development agency" and report that because "of the sensitive nature of much of our work, which often involves crisis and reputation management" they choose not to name their clients.  They also say that they work for government on "strategy development and implementation, behaviour change, modelling and segmentation, scenario planning and consumer insight."



  • Nearly £650,000 under the category "Rent". Another £3,991.24 to Norton Rose for Business Rates.


Department for Energy and Climate Change

  • £19,699 for car hire and leasing for ministerial team and parliamentary support



  • £41,779 for overseas hotels in June and £45,560 in August


Central Office of Information

  • £23,250 on agency staff in August alone



  • £ 30,457.58 on the expense area “cultural diversity” in one month alone


National Offender Management Service

  • Around £15.8 million on Contact ICT Maintenance in June alone

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