Civil servants spent thousands of pounds of public money on jazz workshops, Indian head massages and trips to Blackpool Pleasure Beach and Newmarket Racecourse, the most detailed breakdown of government spending so far revealed yesterday.
Communities and Local Government became the first department to release details of all spending over £500 as part of a new drive for transparency.
All government departments are going to have to publish details of spending on items worth more than £25,000 from November. But the communities department has gone further and released information about spending on items worth more than £500, because this is the disclosure rule that will apply to councils from later this year
The figures revealed that the Government Offices for the Regions ran up bills of more than £100,000 on market research and polling last year. It also spent more than £1,600 on massages for staff and £539 on an away-day trip to Blackpool Pleasure Beach.
A further £3,450 was spent with Improwise, a company which claims to use a live jazz quartet to "demonstrate a range of skills, techniques and issues in a way which is unusual, inspiring, memorable and always effective".
Local Government Minister, Bob Neill, said: "It seems quite literally that the Government Offices for the Regions were taking the taxpayer for a ride. They were living it up at the taxpayers' expense while thousands of households were struggling to make ends meet."
The department spent a total of £314m in 2009/10, of which £635,000 was spent on taxis and chauffeur driven cars. There was a £16m bill for marketing, advertising, promotion and events and nearly £310,000 on catering and food.
How communities and local government spent its money
£635,000 taxis and chauffeurs
£310,000 catering and food
£75,000 paid to sculptor Colin Wilbourn for a miners' memorial dedicated to those who worked at the former Lambton Cokeworks in Sunderland
£19,105 flowers and plants for Homes and Communities Agency
£19,000 photography by The Standards Board for England
£17,000 DCLG event at the four-star Rubens Hotel, opposite Buckingham Palace
£13,000 catering commissioned from Manchester United
£8,012 event at Newmarket Race Course for the Audit Commission
£4,076 an event at a luxury family hotel, the Ickworth Hotel in Suffolk
£3,450 improvise live jazz workshops
£1,673 Stress Angels, a company specialising in corporate massages
£626.75 a trip to Attenborough Nature Centre, near Nottingham
£539 an away day to Blackpool Pleasure Beach