Snouts in the trough?

Several national daily papers are this morning up in arms about credit card spending by government departments and public bodies. Perhaps it should be no surprise, but The Environment Agency is way up there!

The facts, something of an unknown quantity for some of our newspapers, differ from the headlines since the Cabinet Office who have recently revealed the data make it clear that this spending is done by a “Government Procurement Card which is NOT a credit card. It is a payment charge card that allows public sector workers to pay for low value items in a controlled, secure and efficient way typically removing 95% of administrative effort.

These cards are a payment tool which support the control of spend on low value transactions (i.e. travel). They are used extensively in well run private sector organisations as a lower cost alternative to processing supplier’s payments and invoices through Accounts Payable systems.”

Expenditure records for card transactions are as follows:

2007 £ 52,576,667
2008 £ 62,579,130
2009 £ 61,859,025
2010 £ 38,450,668
Number of cards
in use


That’s an awful lot of spending, and this is only a supplementary payment system “to pay for low value items”.

Snouts in the trough? Well, despite the strong hints appearing in today’s newspapers, probably not. And at last, expenditure is going down.

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