Tower Hamlets council forced to open coffers to public

TOWER Hamlets council has promised to publish details of all costs over �500 following pressure from the government.

By the end of the month, the council’s coffers will be laid bare to allow the public a closer look at which services are being prioritised as the cuts come into full force.

The council was asked six months ago by the Department for Communities to open its books up or face a deadline to be forced to do so.

Tower Hamlets is among the 50 per cent of town halls in the country which have not yet published details of executives’ pay, councillor expenses and department spending online.

Communities secretary Eric Pickles has vowed to be tough on “slow coach” councils.

He warned: “Councils only have a month to go before serious questions will be asked about what they’ve got to hide.

“The taxpayer has a right to see where their money is being spent.”

Most Read

Research by credit experts Experian recently showed town halls could be wasting as much as �150million on duplicate payments across their departments.

The government is now pressuring local authorities to show they have done everything to reduce waste before cutting frontline services.

Tower Hamlets must save �29m - just under a quarter of its budget - over the next financial year.

The council said its chiefs already decided in September that spending over �500 should be made public and assured residents its website will be fully updated in a few weeks.

A spokesperson added: “Fiscal transparency and accountability is particularly important at this time and all residents should feel confident that public money is spent in a responsible and efficient manner.

“We are currently one of only a few councils across London to maintain a disclosure log of Freedom of Information responses.”