Councils 'waste £150m a year paying bills twice'
Wednesday 13 October 2010
Councils could save almost £150 million a year if they made sure they did not pay bills twice, Communities Secretary Eric Pickles claimed today.
Audits of two large councils uncovered over-payments to suppliers totalling more than £550,000, with invoices showing that some bills had been paid as many as three times. If repeated across England, the exercise could save an estimated £147 million.
In a speech in London, Mr Pickles said the over-payments betrayed a "lack of respect towards public money" and urged councils to keep tighter control on their purse strings.
A project carried out by Leeds City Council and credit experts Experian recovered £500,000 in over-payments, while a similar audit in the north London borough of Islington found that 10 suppliers had been paid twice and two three times, at a total cost to taxpayers of £55,000, he said.
Experian estimates that similar exercises could save councils across England up to £147 million.
Speaking at the headquarters of Tory-run Hammersmith and Fulham Council, Mr Pickles accused town hall bosses of "letting money slip through their fingers".
He said that new requirements for councils to publish any spending over £500 online would help stop duplicate payments.
Some might see the lost money as "small potatoes" in the context of the UK's multi-billion pound deficit, said Mr Pickles.
But he added: "Actually, £147 million would pay the wages of nearly 9,000 care workers.
"And more importantly, it betrays a particular attitude. A lack of respect towards public money.
"And at every level of government, that has got to change."
Emma Boon, campaign manager at the TaxPayers' Alliance pressure group, said: "Taxpayers will be angry that whilst necessary spending cuts are being made and taxes are rising, local councils have been paying for some things twice and throwing money down the drain.
"Simple checks and greater transparency can both help to prevent over-payments and duplicate payments. It is important that all local authorities start to show more respect for taxpayers' money, to deliver better value and reduce wasteful spending."
Is your name now 'banned' in Saudi Arabia?
Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370: Any terrorist seizure of the plane ‘would have required one hell of a piece of planning’
Friends in high places: Seth Rogen compiles list of all the celebrities he’s smoked pot with
Oscar Pistorius trial: Photographs of Paralympian splattered in blood after Reeva Steenkamp shooting shown in court
Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370: Jet ‘hijacking’ began soon after take-off
Katie Hopkins continues campaign to become Britain's most hated talking head with poorly timed Bob Crow tweet
No EU referendum under Labour: Ed Miliband to reveal that vote on membership is ‘unlikely’ in next Parliament if party wins power
Grace Dent: Who cares if she spells it Barraco Barner? Gemma Worrall is more employable than some bookish arts graduate
Europeans have ‘got whiter’ due to natural selection in past 5,000 years, scientists say
The rise of Ukip: Study warns Labour that Eurosceptic party's electoral base now 'more working class than any of the main parties'
Fracking is turning the US into a bigger oil producer than Saudi Arabia
- 1 Is your name now 'banned' in Saudi Arabia?
- 2 Best films on Netflix: 32 movies that will put an end to your scrolling
- 3 Istanbul protesters take 'Ellen selfie' from the back of a police van
- 4 Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370: Jet ‘hijacking’ began soon after take-off
- 5 Lady Gaga has struggled with eating disorders in the past, so it's indefensible that she's glamourising bulimia in her SXSW set
£50000 - £60000 per annum: Charter Selection: This well respected and exciting...
£40000 - £50000 per annum: Charter Selection: This exciting company and market...
£40000 - £60000 per annum + EXCELLENT SALARY: Austen Lloyd: Senior Private Cli...
£25,000 to £35,000: IT Connections Ltd: Signal Processing Engineer / Acoustics...