Taxpayers' cash spent on hotels and massages

Civil servants spent thousands of pounds of taxpayers' money on luxury hotels, M&S lunches, away days and staff massages last year, newly-released figures show.

But the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) paid out far more on consultants and outsourced work, with IT, market research and advertising accounting for a large chunk of its budget.



The biggest amount, £69.87 million, was paid to Airwave Solutions for mobile communications services for the nation's fire and rescue services.



The next largest payment was £21.76 million to the Ordnance Survey mapping agency, followed by £17.29 million to Land Securities Properties, the UK's largest commercial property company.



Details of 1,913 items of expenditure over £500 made by the core DCLG in 2009-10, totalling £314 million, were published today with a breakdown of another £337 million of spending by the department's biggest quangos.



Among the eye-catching entries in the DCLG accounts are £12,948 for catering at Manchester United, £782 for an event at Exeter Racecourse, £2,500 for food provided by the Muslim Council of Great Britain and £500 spent at Majestic Wine Warehouse.



The Rubens at the Palace 4-star hotel, located opposite Buckingham Palace and around the corner from the DCLG offices, was clearly popular with the department's civil servants.



A total of £21,692 was spent there last year, made up of £16,959 for events, £1,999 on food, £932 for accommodation and £1,801.20 for "learning and development services".



The department also spent £5,145 on an event at the 5-star Waldorf Hilton hotel in central London



Out of the £9.14 million that went on "learning and development services", £13,450 was paid to the Quilliam Foundation, which was co-founded by former Islamists and describes itself as the world's first counter-extremism think tank.



Some £109,851 was spent on human resources consultancy, including £1,483 to a company called Psychology in Business (UK) Ltd.



And £31.2 million went on research, including £4.38 million to polling company Mori and £62,233 to the Board of Muslim Scholars.



The figures suggest that staff at the Home and Communities Agency have a taste for luxury hotels.



The quango, which promotes affordable housing and community regeneration, spent £4,475 at the Hotel du Vin boutique chain and £4,552 at Malmaison hotels in 2009-10.



Another £5,003 went on stays at luxury 4-star spa retreats in the Shire Hotels group, while £2,826 was spent at Colwick Hall Hotel, a grade II* listed manor overlooking Nottingham racecourse.



The West Country also proved popular, with staff spending £1,782 at the 4-star Rougemont Hotel in Exeter and £963 at the "comfortably chic" Old Quay House overlooking the waterfront in Fowey, Cornwall.



The Home and Communities Agency paid £49,238 for accommodation at Dolphin House, serviced apartments set in "idyllic" gardens along the River Thames in central London that were previously home to dignitaries including French leader General de Gaulle.



Out of the total £222,179 spent by the agency on overnight stays last year, some £110,419 went on unnamed hotels reserved through corporate booking agency Expotel.



The accounts also disclosed that the Government Offices network of regional agencies around the country - which are being abolished by the coalition Government - paid £1,673 to Stress Angels, a company that offers on-site corporate massage.



They also spent £539 on an away-day trip to Blackpool pleasure beach and £626 on a visit to the Attenborough Nature Centre near Nottingham.



In the "learning and development services" category, the Government Offices gave £2,000 to an organisation called Getaway Girls, which helps young women build their confidence, and £24,750 to Jean Kelly Consultancy, which specialises in "bullying and harassment investigations".



Another £14,527 went to Love2reward, which runs incentive schemes for employees and customers.



The figures released today also show that:



* Staff at the London Thames Gateway Development Corporation enjoyed £4,270 worth of food from the Marks & Spencer lunchtogo range of catering delivered directly to offices.

* The DCLG paid £6,325 for The Economist, which at current rates would pay for 62 UK subscriptions to the highbrow current affairs magazine.

* The department's bill for promotion was £1.52 million, including £203,333 for Media Moguls, the UK's "leading ethnic marketing and PR agency".

* Planning inspectors claimed £1.88 million for travel and subsistence, while the same cost for administrative staff came to £146,206.

Arts & Entertainment
The Honesty Policy is a group of anonymous Muslims who believe that the community needs a space to express itself without shame or judgement
music
Arts & Entertainment
Martin Freeman as Lester Nygaard in the TV adaptation of 'Fargo'
tv
News
Waitrose will be bringing in more manned tills
newsOverheard in Waitrose: documenting the chatter in 'Britain's poshest supermarket'
Sport
Pablo Larrazabal jumps into a pond in Kuala Lumpur to escape a swarm of hornets
videoSpain's Pablo Larrazabal's had a refreshing solution
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
News
Who makes you happy?
happy listSend your nominations now for the Independent on Sunday Happy List
Arts & Entertainment
tvIt might all be getting a bit much, but this is still the some of the finest TV ever made, says Grace Dent
Sport
Jonathan Trott will take a second break from cricket after suffering a repeat of the stress-related illness that forced him out of the Ashes tour of Australia
sport
Life & Style
life
Life & Style
fashion
Arts & Entertainment
Ian Anderson, the leader of British rock band Jethro Tull, (right) and British guitar player Martin Barre (left) perform on stage
musicJethro Tull frontman leads ‘prog rock’ revival
Life & Style
Father and son: Michael Williams with son Edmund
lifeAs his son’s bar mitzvah approaches, CofE-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys he’s experienced in learning about his family’s other faith
Sport
Gareth Bale dribbled from inside his own half and finished calmly late in the final to hand Real a 2-1 win at the Mestalla in Valencia
sport
Arts & Entertainment
Who laughs lass: Jenny Collier on stage
comedy... writes Jenny Collier, the comedian whose recent show was cancelled because there were 'too many women' on the bill
News
House proud: keeping up with the Joneses now extends to children's playhouses
newsLuxury playhouses now on the market for as much as £800
News
news
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Apprentice IT Technician

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...

1st Line Technical Service Desk Analyst IT Apprentice

£153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...

1st Line Helpdesk Engineer Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...

Sales Associate Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...

Day In a Page

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit