Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 December 2014

Spending on charge cards revealed

More than 137,000 public servants used Government procurement cards for transactions in the last year
More than 137,000 public servants used Government procurement cards for transactions in the last year

Civil servants and officials spent £1.1 billion on taxpayer-funded charge cards in the last year on items including a £927 picture frame and £646 chair.

More than 137,000 public servants used the Government procurement cards (GPCs) for transactions including luxury hotels, meals and wine in 2012/13, the Daily Mail reported.

The Cabinet Office insisted the cards enabled officials to pay for low value items in a secure way and spending was closely monitored.

Officials at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport signed off £927 on a single picture frame and the Planning Inspectorate spent £646 on a chair, according to the Daily Mail.

Home Office staff spent £1,655 on a stay at the Hilton Rose Hall resort and spa in Jamaica's Montego Bay and the Department for Education spent £10,000 a month on a staff rewards scheme, the newspaper said.

TaxPayers' Alliance chief executive Matthew Sinclair said : "This is a massive bill for hard-working families to foot. Credit cards can be an efficient way to control expenses, but it's unacceptable to use them to pay for top hotels and swanky restaurants.

"Politicians and bureaucrats have to change their spending habits and stop wasting taxpayers' cash on needless expenses."

A Cabinet Office spokesperson said: "This Government is tackling waste and making Whitehall leaner so Britain can compete in the global race. We are making procurement smarter and saved the taxpayer an unprecedented £10 billion through efficiencies last year alone.

"Procurement cards allow civil servants to pay securely for low value items and when used effectively, they save money.

"They were introduced in 1997 with no consistent monitoring. We have tightened controls on them, implemented cross Whitehall standards, and set up a taskforce to tackle fraud and a group to monitor spend. Information on their use is now published online."

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