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Local Budget Transparency

FROM: Leigh Hall

What NEED does this meet?
No one likes tax, but if people could see clearly how their tax money was being spent then they could at least accept it. I am not talking "In: £xxx, Out: £xxx, jobs a good 'un", I'm talking a comprehensive, detailed and transparent breakdown of ALL local income and outgoings. A breakdown of central funding received, a breakdown of council tax income, by area and by band and a detailed list of where it is being spent. At each level the cost should be justified, and this could even provide opportunity to make local project documentation available, and possibly (long shot) could open up public projects to having contracts tendered to lowest bidders.

What is the APPROACH?
This information must be available already, so it would be a case of seeking approval for publication, and then the transferral of the ledgers into a database. Then a user friendly interface could be constructed, the results can be added to a website.

What are the BENEFITS to people?
As I said before, no one likes tax, but if they could see how their money was being spent, and could see that it was being spent wisely, they would be able to live with it.

Additionally, providing an electronic framework for this data might eliminate the need for the existing paperwork that is undoubtedly undertaken.

What is the COMPETITION?
I am sure that at some level there will be a vested interest in preventing this from happening, but unless a valid argument can be presented, I do not see why this could not happen.

What BUDGET & LOGISTICS are required?
The ledgers must already exist, so there would be no extra resource needed to get this information. For the duration of the project, a skilled database programmer would need to work with the ledgers to transfer them into an electronic format. From here, the data could be made directly available. Once the project is live, it would need to be updated throughout the year, but this cost could be saved from possibly moving the ledger into an electronic format, and removing the manual work.

November 3, 2003 in Money, Perhaps Government Remit?, Political | Permalink


I salute the objective, but caution that local government finance is enormously complex.
I fear that attempting to make sense of it for the general public will be a huge task.

Posted by: Paul Griffiths at Nov 3, 2003 12:18:17 PM

I love the idea, and suggest that it would be possible if the Local Councils eagerly embrace the notion of e-commerce, transparency and the Freedon of Information. So many Government organisations are just "paving the towpaths" i.e. just attempting to automate outdated and cumbersome systems and processes. What we need is a Local Council that is brave enough to try it. The reluctance will come from Councillors that have had it all too cosy and don't want to be held accountable.

[webmaster - this form really needs to have wordwrap within the "visible" frame]

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