Government Christmas tree expenditure goes untrimmed

Government departments have come under fire for spending generous sums on Christmas trees while public spending is being pared back.

The Department of Health has spent £2,485 on a single tree for its south London headquarters, and a further £750 on three smaller trees in a Whitehall office, while the Cabinet Office has lavished £3,027 on three Christmas trees for its Whitehall offices.

According to a Cabinet Office representative: "The cost covers the delivery of each tree from a certified sustainable supplier, the decorations, installation, maintenance and disposal in an environmentally friendly way."

But according to Liberal Democrat charities spokeswoman Jenny Willott: "The Cabinet Office is supposed to be cutting back on waste and prioritising spending on front-line services and support, especially for charities – not wasting thousands on Christmas decorations. They had better be the biggest and most beautiful Christmas trees in the world for that price. Shame no one will be in the Cabinet Office over Christmas to enjoy them."

And shadow health minister Mike Penning said of the DoH expenditure: "This is astonishing at a time when you would expect austerity from the department.

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