Sunday, 15 May 2011

More on expenses

James Forsyth, Mail on Line (Sunday), has an article on Government procurement cards, cards which in fact are corporate credit cards on the Government's account. Whilst there are no grounds for supposing that Forsyth has his facts wrong, he notes that there are 140,000 in circulation and that the annual bill is around £1billion. Only just over half these cards are issued to central government employees with the rest going to local government and other government bodies. Amongst items on these cards, bills show a £12 Burger King meal, a £23 bill from the chicken chain Nando's, a £60 bar bill from a Slug & Lettuce pub and a £646 bill from the Commonwealth Club. Forsyth notes that senior civil servants are rebuffing attempts to publish this data and notes the obvious - that attempting to cover things up only increases public distrust whilst making matters worse. Acknowledging that the Coalition have said they intend to clamp down on to whom these cards are issued and what can be purchased using them, one would have thought that with the country's finances in a parlous state this problem would have received a far higher priority.

Richard Littlejohn has an article in Friday's edition of the Mail, in which he refers briefly to the matter that a Question Time edition is to be broadcast from Wormwood Scrubs. He continues in comparing the crime of Laws with that of Jim Devine, Jacqui Smith, Tony McNulty and Andrew MacKay asking where is the difference. On that basis Littlejohn suggests that Prime Minister's Questions should also be aired from Wormwood Scrubs - which to me seems a perfectly reasonable move.

It may well be the questions of the deficit, Europe or immigration that does get bums off seats to protest, however it may just, with a tad more publicity, be the venality of the political class that does the trick!


James Higham said...

Forsyth notes that senior civil servants are rebuffing attempts to publish this data


TomTom said...

How does the HMRC consider such "benefits in kind" ? Normal people have to submit receipts for reimbursement and Wining & dining is NOT tax-deductible unless connected with exports after Nigel Lawson changed the rules.

So what are the guidelines and caps on such T&E expenditure by public sector cardholders ? It would be helpful for taxpayers and ratepayers to see these guidelines and to have an idea who exactly has such cards.

It is common in the Advertising World for corporate cards to be handed out to spouses, but we know why that is.

I just marvel at HMRC and its indulgent attitude to Vodafone, Goldman Sachs and civil servants