June 24, 2011
County Council releases its full financial transactions
County Council has this week published the full details of its
staff's financial transactions using credit cards over the past
The cards are routinely used by councils to quickly and easily
pay for low-priced items and the use of them is encouraged by
the Government because of the savings in time, money and paperwork.
In Somerset, the total number of transactions over the past five
years is around 50,000 with a total value of nearly £5m,
The newly information is available here
on the authoritys website, and Somerset says it is one of
a small number of councils across the UK to openly publish such
The figures reveal that in August 2010 a card was used to book
a trip to China for students at Street Childrens Centre.
Pupils interested in going to China had to raise the funds for
the trip up-front, and the council says the credit card was used
to pay the £12,294 because this was the most efficient method
of paying the travel company.
The data also shows that last July £102 was spent in Pizza
Express in Taunton, however the council says this amount refers
to the cost of holding a focus group at the venue, in which both
children and adults were invited to contribute to what became
an award-winning campaign to help reduce teenage pregnancies.
Council Leader Ken Maddock says publishing the transactions is
the right thing to do.
"We already publish all our spending over £500. We
publish far more detail about senior staff pay than we technically
need to, and I welcome the publication of this further information
about our spending."
"We know that a small percentage of the transactions need
further investigation, and we are taking action where those are
concerned. We will also be interested to hear from any of our
residents acting as armchair auditors who look through
these figures and believe they can spot ways to make us more efficient
or to save money."
Kevin Nacey, Service Director of Finance, added: "Somerset
County Council currently has 699 credit card holders and each
one is issued with very strict guidelines regarding their use.
We plan to take the lead in publishing transaction details on
a regular basis and will provide as much useful information about
these as we possibly can."