It still amazes me just how profligate Whitehall (amongst others) is with our cash. There frequently are no checks and balances at the lower end of the scale, unlike any private company who will want to know to the last penny just how much you’ve spent.
Ministers’ control over the hundreds of millions of pounds spent by civil servants on government-issue credit cards is still far too lax, auditors said last night.
Some departments could not provide receipts to prove purchases were genuine, or were allowing junior staff to buy items on the cards despite not having the authority to do so.
The situation is so bad at Department for Work and Pensions – which emerged as the most problematic – that inspectors found a £600,000 backlog of unauthorised purchases still to be signed off.
The Daily Mail has previously revealed details of billion-pound spending sprees by civil servants using the 24,000 procurement cards, which are funded by the taxpayer.
They had been used for plane tickets, luxury hotels, fine dining, thousands of pounds’ worth of taxis – and even to buy doughnuts and shop at iTunes.
The Department for Transport even paid for an official to have flying lessons.
The report by the National Audit Office revealed that £322million of payments were made on the cards in 2010/11, while in the first half of this year they have totalled £149million.
Three-quarters of spending was accounted for by the Ministry of Defence alone.
The NAO found ‘different controls’ on the cards’ use across Whitehall, and systems had ‘notable weaknesses’.
You’d think a simple rule of no receipt, no pay (or it’s coming out of your pocket) would cut down the excess, though what really needs to be hammered home is the fact that it isn’t their money to waste.
It really beggars belief at times the profligacy and corruption of taxpayers cash at the top of the public services, if anyone tried that in my company their feet wouldn’t even touch the floor as they were kicked out and means set in motion to recoup the money through either civil or criminal courts.
Though most expenses wouldn’t even be allowed to reach the stage that these troughers have managed, they’d just look at the receipts and say we’re not paying that. But in the weird world of the public services such basic safeguards don’t seem to have a place in the culture of waste and mismanagement at the top of the tree, though I suspect the junior ranks might just struggle to get a replacement paperclip from the stationary store such would be the paperwork involved.
What we can be sure of is that the senior mandarins will fight like trapped rats to prevent any reform of the system. It’s one of the reasons they have to go, or be strung from the lampposts as and when we get around to them after hanging the MP’s and lawyers etc.
It’s a long list and it just keeps getting longer and possibly always will at least until they show a lot more respect to the long suffering taxpayer and really start giving value for money.