Government gives Wirral Council 6 months to publish information on contracts, land, grants, trade unions & parking
The government on the 1st May published the Local Government Transparency Code 2014. The aim of it is to make local councils more transparent. The code’s published using a legal power the government has by s.2 of the Local Government, Planning and Land Act 1980 and applies to county councils, district councils (such as Wirral Council), some parish councils, fire authorities (such as Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority), joint waste authorities (such as Merseyside Recycling and Waste Authority), combined authorities (such as the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority) and other types of public bodies. However it doesn’t apply to Police and Crime Commissioners.
The transparency code lists at page 9 information that must be published by these bodies starting with expenditure of over £500 (which is already published monthly on Wirral Council’s website). The main difference the transparency code introduces in this area is a need to publish for each transaction VAT that can’t be recovered.
Details of invitations to tender for contracts of a value of £5,000 or more will in future be published by Wirral Council because of the transparency code. Details of any “contract, commissioned activity, purchase order, framework agreement and any other legally enforceable agreement with a value that exceeds £5,000” will also need to be published. This will include descriptions of the goods/services provided, amounts paid or estimated annual spend, supplier details, start/end/review dates and whether the supplier is a small to medium-sized enterprise or voluntary or community organisation. The topic of the public knowing what they’re getting from suppliers to Wirral Council was discussed at a previous Birkenhead Constituency Committee meeting.
In addition to the invoices and contracts information the following information will need to be published annually:
- local authority land,
- grants to voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations,
- organisation chart,
- trade union facility time,
- parking revenues,
- controlled parking spaces,
- senior salaries,
- constitution and
- the pay multiple.
For example on land, Wirral Council will have to publish details of all its freeholds, leaseholds, properties occupied or run under Private Finance Initiative contracts, other properties they own or use, surplus or vacant properties, undeveloped land, lease agreements and information on some other land related categories.
Information on grants (such as the Love Wirral scheme) to voluntary, community or social enterprise organisations will also have to be published such as a description of what the grant is for and the amount. The organisation chart showing the top three levels of management will mean that for each member of staff that this covers that their grade, job title, department and team, contact details, salary in £5,000 brackets and salary ceiling will have to be published.
The information required to be published on trade union facility time will include the trade unions involved, total number of staff who are union representatives, total number of staff that devote at least 50% of their time to union duties and an estimate of the spending on trade union duties as a percentage of the total pay bill.
Parking revenue data will be how much Wirral Council collects from on street parking, off street parking and parking enforcement notices. Wirral Council will need to publish the numbers of on and off street parking spaces.
The requirement on senior salary details goes further than the current requirements and includes bonus and payments in kind details for senior employees earning £50,000 or more and publishing a list of responsibilities for senior staff. The list of responsibilities means the services and functions that they are responsible for, budget held and number of staff.
The requirement to publish Wirral Council’s constitution on their website is already met by Wirral Council. The requirement to publish the pay multiple is the ratio between the highest paid salary and the median salary of the whole workforce.
The transparency code also includes details of recommended items that local councils should publish such as transactions over £250, transactions on corporate credit cards, numbers of free parking spaces, details of their counter fraud work and other matters. Councils and other public bodies have six months to publish the mandatory information required by the new transparency code.
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