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How civil servants are spending millions of taxpayers' money on foreign trips, fast food

By DailyMail | July 15th 2013

Adopted from DailyMail

Civil servants spent £7.5million on council credit cards, paying for parking tickets, KFC takeaways and even ukuleles with taxpayers' money.

Items bought on the council cards also included garden patio sets, a bowler hat and SpongeBob SquarePants cushions.

One local authority officer spent £423 on a tour of Arsenal's Emirates Stadium, while others paid off parking tickets dished out by their own employers.

Staff from five local authorities in the West Midlands racked up the £7.5million total using 1,500 'purchase' or 'procurement' cards.

The cards paid for travel to Paris and Venice as well as hotel stays and dozens of lunches from Marks and Spencer.

Dudley Council was the biggest spender, racking up £5.5million over 50,407 transactions on 862 cards.

Council staff made 147 taxpayer-funded visits to KFC and McDonald's in the 2011 to 2012 tax year.

Walsall Council's 183 cards bought items including eight ukuleles totalling £159.92 and edible printer ink costing £75.75.

The council spent £1,116,545.87 from April 2010 to April 2013, including the purchase of a £129.99 trampoline by a senior administrator.

Records also showed the Walsall council cards were used for £640 on two patio furniture sets, £137 on an ice cube maker and £11.97 for three SpongeBob SquarePants cushions.

Wolverhampton City Council has spent £4,547,851.48 in four years on its cards, although it could not produce detailed figures on its day-to-day expenditure.

Sandwell Council has 12 active credit cards, spending £145,232.36 in the past four financial years.

 Wyre Forest Council in Worcestershire has 13 procurement cards and spent £66,370.79 in 607 transactions in the past financial year.

The councils say they had not paid any interest on the items bought as they paid off monthly statements on time.

John Polychronakis, chief executive of Dudley Council said: 'Purchase cards are a modern, efficient way of dealing with and managing local authority transactions to improve efficiency and reduce unnecessary paper trails and bureaucracy.'

Matthew Sinclair, of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: 'Councils should publish bills for their taxpayer-funded purchase cards automatically.

'That way residents can scrutinise how their cash is spent and hold wasteful bureaucrats to account.

'Town halls have a duty to keep this spending down, some are blowing a fortune unnecessarily and putting the cards in the hands of too many staff.'



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