The government has released details of £80bn worth of spending since the election. Among the transactions, published online as part the ministers’ “transparency agenda”, are £1.17m on in-cell TV, and £26,000 to train Cabinet Office staff to have “difficult conversations”.
The some 195,000 lines of data comprised all spending of over £25,000 between May and September. Capita was the biggest private sector recipient of taxpayers’ money, with £3.2bn going to teachers’ pensions.
Other expenditures included £2.2m compensation for miscarriages of justice, and £677,000 rent paid to Prince Charles for Dartmoor prison, which is located on his land. Among the smaller transactions were £1,000 paid to company making diamond dog collars, and £4,700 on a chocolate team-building event by the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills.
David Cameron said making the data transparent meant people would begin “flagging up waste when they see it” and that the scrutiny would “act as a powerful straightjacket on spending”.
However, The Audit Commission, the government spending watchdog set to be axed by 2012, warned that the raw data should not be interpreted without the whole story. Chairman Mike Higgins said that “what is being released is not in fact information, it is data” and that “data needs context to become information”.