Half of English councils yet to publish spending data

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Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles
Image caption,
Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles criticised 'slowcoach' councils

More than half of councils in England have yet to comply with government demands to publish their spending, with a month to go before the deadline.

Of 354 local authorities, 144 have released the information, and the rest have until the end of January.

Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles, who wants all spending above £500 itemised online, criticised the "slowcoach councils" yet to comply.

However, councils will not be legally forced to publish the information.

Mr Pickles, who called on councils six months ago to start publishing spending online from September, said: "In 2011 I would like to see every council make their new year's resolution to cut more waste and fully open their books up to public scrutiny."

'Serious questions'

He said he applauded the 144 councils who had complied so far, but criticised the others yet to do so.

They only have a month to go before serious questions will be asked about what they have got to hide, he added.

"Openness is an essential part of a proper modern democracy. The taxpayer has a right to see where their money is being spent, to point out waste and decide local priorities."

Also to be published online, as part of the government's transparency agenda, are senior salaries, councillors' expenses, minutes of meetings and data on service provision such as rubbish and recycling rates.

A code of practice incorporating the requirements on transparency about spending is to be published shortly.

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