10 February 2010

New steps to boost transparency in the way local taxes are spent are the subject of special roundtable discussions taking place today between Northamptonshire County Council, national pressure group the Taxpayers’ Alliance and other leading figures.

The council has announced that in the next financial year it will use its website to publish every single item of expenditure over a set amount so everyone in the county can see exactly how all their money is spent.

And to make sure it publishes the right kind of information in a way which is most accessible and understandable a special session is taking place today which will be attended by representatives from the Northamptonshire and local government media, the national campaign manager for the Taxpayers’ Alliance and senior council officers and cabinet members.

Leader of the council Cllr Jim Harker said: “In Northamptonshire we are working hard to increase transparency in everything we do. The latest stage of this is our commitment to publish details of everything the council has spent its money on every month.

“What is vital however is that in doing this we are giving people the information they need in a way they want to receive it and which explains what things cost and their value. That is the purpose of today’s meeting. We felt it was important that we got a variety of views from experts on how best this would work and I am delighted to welcome to the county several leading figures in this field to help us get this right.”

Attending the meeting alongside local figures representing the interests of Northamptonshire’s business, local media and public sector will be Mark Wallace, campaign director for the Taxpayers’ Alliance and editor of the Local Government Chronicle Emma Maier.

The session will be chaired by the Cllr Harker and also in attendance will be the council’s chief executive and current president of the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives (SOLACE) Katherine Kerswell. She said: “I am really pleased to be able to have this discussion so we can make sure that when we work to increase our transparency we get it right. It is important we don’t just publish a set of figures as that doesn’t help people understand what things really cost and the value they get from their money as tax payers.

“It is vital that local authorities do everything they can to make themselves more accountable and understandable. I believe publishing full details of all council expenditure would certainly be a significant step in the right direction and something all councils should consider doing."