As part of the new era of transparency on public spending introduced by the Government, from January 2011 Stevenage Borough Council, along will all other local councils, will be required to publish on-line every item of spending over £500. Many local councils, including Luton, Welwyn Hatfield and Herts County, have already responded and information for these and around a third of all council can be reviewed by the general public already.
Stephen McPartland, MP for Stevenage, said, “I very much welcome this change and look forward to the greater transparency of spending by Stevenage Borough Council, with greater accountability of any significant amounts from £500 upwards. It will also help make the decision-making more accountable. For instance, the pay-off of around £170,000 to the previous CEO of the council is a disgustingly high amount and a term of the employment contract that the council should never have agreed to. By making any and all payments readily available for members of the public to see, I expect the decisions taken in the future will improve and we will see money spent on front-line services and not wasted on layers of unnecessary monitoring and administration.”
Instead of bureaucratic accountability, the changes in the requirements for local authorities to make their spending available on-line aim to bring in a new system of democratic accountability to the people. Reform will in this way be driven by consistent and long-term views from local people of what they actually want and choose in public services.