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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Life and Style
life
News
news

The party's potential nominations read like a high school race for student body president

Voices
A mother and her child
voices
Voices
The veterans Mark Hayward, Hugh Thompson and Sean Staines (back) with Grayson Perry (front left) and Evgeny Lebedev
charity appealMaverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Arts and Entertainment
Cold case: Aaron McCusker and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvReview: Sky Atlantic's ambitious new series Fortitude has begun with a feature-length special
Voices
Three people wearing masks depicting Ed Miliband, David Cameron and Nick Clegg
voicesPolitics is in the gutter – but there is an alternative, says Nigel Farage
News
i100
News
people
Sport
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho
footballI have never seen the point of lambasting the fourth official, writes Paul Scholes
Life and Style
Vote green: Benoit Berenger at The Duke of Cambridge in London's Islington
food + drinkBanishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turn over a new leaf
News
Joel Grey (left) poses next to a poster featuring his character in the film
peopleActor Joel Grey comes out at 82
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing & Sales Manager

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A reputable organisation within the leisure i...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Recruitment Genius: Doctors - Dubai - High "Tax Free" Earnings

£96000 - £200000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Looking for a better earning p...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer

£32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly expanding company in ...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee