Kent County Council to publish monthly accounts

The Kent Messenger reports:

Plans to reveal more details of how Kent County Council spends millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money by publishing monthly accounts have been backed by county councillors. The move is expected to result in the authority setting out much more comprehensive details about how it spends £1billion on goods and services each year…

Cllr John Simmonds, KCC cabinet member for finance, said he wanted KCC to take a lead in meeting the much greater expectations of the public for councils to be open and transparent…

Cllr Simmonds warned that there were practical problems given the size of KCC and its budget, as well as issues of confidentiality. “In one week, we have 6,200 transactions of £1,000 or more. What I do not want to do is put lots of information out there that nobody will make any use of. I am in favour of openness but the public will not thank us if we spend millions doing it. Whatever we end up with, we have to make it worthwhile.”

I had some thoughts on this type of suggestion a few weeks ago. To summarise: monthly income and expenditure reports are fine, but is an operational detail that isn’t particularly useful. However, involving the public in setting budgets for a one-year or three-year spending cycle – i.e. Participatory Budgeting – is much more powerful.

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Man of letters & numbers; also occasionally of action. Husband to NTW. Dad of three. Friendly geek.

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