A government is employed by the electorate; the electorate should know how taxpayer money is being spent.
The government should also present their information in a way that is clear and easy to understand instead of concealing the issue behind difficult language and layers of terminology. For years politicians have signed off expensive projects and bureaucrats have agreed cosy pay hikes behind closed doors.
But it is essential that taxpayers know how their money is spent. That’s why promoting transparency in government spending has been a staple of our work since 2004. Through our rigorous research, we have uncovered billions of pounds of wasteful spending over the years and have made sure the public has access to this information. But we believe the Government should make this information available to the public themselves. So we have repeatedly pressed the Government to publish more information.
We spoke on behalf of taxpayers during the MPs’ expenses scandal, pushed for full disclosure of all MPs’ expenses, and submitted a detailed submission to Parliament for comprehensive reform.
All councils now publish all spending over £500, which we have long fought for. Local authorities must also reveal the number of staff they employ on over £50,000 per annum and provide further details on staff earning more than £150,000. – something we had been calling for since our first Town Hall Rich List was published in 2006.
In addition, during the 2015 Spending Review, the Government encouraged councils to get the wage bill for high earners down to a more reasonable level, increase transparency of assets owned and make sure that those assets are available to the public. This proved that greater transparency is the first step to change
Thanks to our consistent pressure, government departments now also put more data than ever online through the COINS database for taxpayers to scrutinise. We have been instrumental in changing the political landscape on spending transparency, because now politicians know taxpayers are watching. Furthermore, the 2014 Legal Audit made it illegal for councils to prevent people from blogging or tweeting at council meeting.