Government requires council transparency to aid SME's contract bids and "armchair auditors"

Councils will be required to publish extra details of tenders and spending as part of a raft of measures aimed at empowering "armchair auditors to expose municipal waste".

Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles announced the new provisions, previously voluntary, as mandatory for councils with a gross income or expenditure of more than £6.5 million, on Thursday.

Councils will have to publish details quarterly of procurement over £5,000 and expenditure over £500 as well as details of spending on Government Procurement Cards.

The Government thinks that publishing this information will make it easier for small and medium-sized firms to bid for work and introduce more competition to lower costs.

In addition councils will have to publish:

  • Local authorities’ property assets, worth £220 billion in total.
  • Grants given to voluntary and community groups, to show how councils are backing the Big Society.
  • Details of staff pay.

Pickles said: "Greater power for local government must go hand in hand with greater local transparency and local accountability."


The DCLG has said the Government is providing funding to cover the new burdens the proposed new transparency code places on local authorities.

In the New Year, it intends to consult on broadening transparency to companies linked to councils and parishes with gross income or expenditure less than £25,000.

The department is now consulting on the changes, listed in its proposed new transparency code, and is interested to hear from "relevant bodies, open data experts, developers, citizen activists and other interested parties." They have until 17 January to respond.

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