Friday, 27 May 2011

Councils spend £100m on taxpayer-funded credit cards

Councils have spent tens of millions of pounds on taxpayer-funded credit cards with local authority executives and councillors treating themselves to first-class travel to foreign destinations and stays in five-star hotels, The Daily Telegraph can disclose.

£500,000 was spent on gifts such as Tiffany jewellery, Gucci products and pure silk ties, while online shopping sprees racked up bills of more than £300,000 at Argos and £150,000 at Amazon. One council even bought llamas on its credit card.

Last night, Whitehall officials were shocked when shown details of the credit card bills with senior Government sources claiming that another MPs-expenses style scandal may be emerging. It is not clear whether rules or laws have been broken and any public money can be reclaimed.

Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary, charged with overseeing local authorities and cutting waste described the spending as “wild”.

The documents show that Cornwall Council was responsible for the most excessive spending, with a total credit card bill of almost £9 million including £1,145,160 on hotels alone since 2008.

In contrast, 48 councils did not issue the credit cards with several others only incurred bills running into thousands of pounds.

Whitehall officials are understood to be increasingly concerned that there was little oversight on the expenditure with few checks made on the use of taxpayers’ money. 

The documents show that officials used the council cards to treat themselves to iPads, Macbooks and iPhones, with more than £100,000 spent on Apple products alone
  
My comment: Just like the MPs expense scandal, why do we have to wait for a newspaper to expose the problem, where was the scrutiny and where were the watchdogs?

Check out your council here.

Read the full story from the source The Telegraph 

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