Friday, 5 August 2011

Armchair Auditing: the City Council's accounts under the spotlight

Regular readers of virtual-lancaster will recall we reported how the government had announced the launch of of a new online search engine that shows local taxpayers when they can inspect their council's detailed financial spending and ledgers as part of greater public transparency.

Frankly, here at VL we think this was a waste of public money -- and we'd love to know how much money it cost when the government is bleating about making budget savings, often, it seems, at the expense of the poor and physically and mentally challenged. It is quicker to type'accounts + the name of your local authority' into Google to get there.

Lancaster City Council's statement of accounts for 2010 is here. Apparently,  there is still some £4 million stuck in Iceland that we have some hopes of recovering. Fingers crossed.

Meanwhile, local 'armchair auditor' Rick Seymour who has gone through the Councils 29,000 plus payments from 2010 and has been putting their accounts through the wringer and has thrown up some interesting data which he's published on his web site, including details of Lancaster Council spend per department 2010.

The data below comes from spending data released as part of the Public Right of Inspection period (July 2011) to cover financial period 2010/11 and does not include internal costs such as wages, pensions etc (external costs only)

Department Name Total
Property Services 6191344
Financial Services 5739670
Environmental Services 5533901
Council Housing (HRA) 4959293
Regeneration and Policy 2960272
Community Engagement 2532631
Health & Strategic Housing 1065147
Information Services 535891
Governance 215007
Democratic Services 202444
Office of the Chief Executive 10231
Corporate Strategy 1429

 He's also neatly laid out a list of all new contracts (over £50k), for you to browse at, which include the £1,012,950 spent on refurbishing Morecambe Town Hall.

You can request to view any of the contracts by contacting Lancaster City Council finance department or going into town hall.

Finally, he's created a way for you to see every payment the Council has made: just click on the name of a company below and you'll find out how much they were paid. The full list is here. For example, here's how much the Council spent on rail travel last year - £3803.44 in total. It's an intriguing snapshot of just how many local businesses benefit, large or small, on Council spending - and how the reduction of such spending could impact on them.

If anyone would like to get in touch with him to help go through more detailed stuff, you can contact him through his website.

Sample Local Businesses

32090-35666 Taxis Ltd
848848 Taxis
A1 Supaskips
Animal Zone
Apollo Cinemas
A R Hyslop (Lancaster) Ltd
Arnside Post Office
Bargain Booze
Edge Cycleworks
Evans Marquee Hire
Harrison Willis & Moore
Heritage Cards And Souvenirs Ltd
J Atkinson
Kings Arms Hotel Lancaster
Nicholas Evans Designer & Screen Printer
Pagefast Print & Publishing Ltd
Quite Simply Food
Ryelands Service Station
Sun Hotel
The Animal Zone
The Borough

Sample Marketing and Advertising

Ad Boards
Bay Radio
NCBI Lancashire
Fat Media Ltd
Johnston Press
@Lancaster Community Magazine
Lancaster Guardian
Morecambe Press Ltd
Newsquest (North West) Ltd

Sample National Businesses

Adobe Store UK
Amazon US
Dell Products


Airport Direct
British Rail
First TransPennine Express
First UK Railways
Fishergate Car Parking
IOM Steampacket
London Underground
National Express
Network Rail
Northern Rail
Northern Rail Ltd
Northern Trains
Stagecoach Services Ltd
Thomas Cook
Train tickets
TransPennine Express
TransPennine Trains
Virgin Rail
Virgin Trains
Virgin West Coast
West Coast Trains Ltd


British Gas
British Gas Business
BT Business Direct Ltd
BT Openreach
BT Payment Services Ltd
E.ON Energy
Southern Electric
United Utilities
United Utilities Utility Solutions (E&CS) Ltd
United Utilities Water Plc
Vodafone Ltd
TV Licence
TV Licensing

Other Councils

Cumbria County Council
Eden District Council
Lancashire County Council
Preston City Council
Wyre Borough Council
West Dorset District Council

Postage and other Delivery Services

Post Office
Post Office Counters Ltd
Post Office Ltd
The Post Office
The Post Office Ltd

Local Community Organisations

Age Concern Lancashire
Cancer Care
Gregson Community Association Ltd
Lancashire Wildlife Trust Ltd
Lancaster Citizens Advice Bureau
Marsh Community Centre
Morecambe FC Community Sports
Morecambe Football Club Ltd
Storey Art Gallery Ltd
Storey Creative Industries Centre
The Dukes
The Dukes Playhouse Ltd
The Rainbow Centre
The Ramblers Association
The Storey Creative Industries Centre

Sample Government Departments

Health Protection Agency
Northwest Development Agency

Some Local Education

Heysham High School
Lancaster University
University of Cumbria


Accounting Officer Ministry of Defence
Ken Dodd
Manchester Utd

1 comment:

Rick Seymour said...

Thank you to everyone that's had a look at what Lancaster City Council is spending in your name.

You can comment on any of the spending items by clicking on "amount" column.
Any comment made I'll request the invoice from the council ... and put a feed of what people are requesting....
Collaborative analysis! :)

I really want to know what you think... or what.. or how it could be better!

Get in touch
Rick... the programmer