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16.05.16

New proposals for councils to publish assets and procurement data

Procurement decisions by local councils will be more open to public scrutiny under proposed changes to the Local Government Transparency Code.

The proposed changes to the code, part of which has been mandatory since October 2014, include a central database to record local authorities’ land and property assets, including the suitability of the land for housing.

The move comes as the much-criticised Housing and Planning Act, intended to increase the availability of affordable housing, became law last week.

Local authorities will also be required to publish procurement data on a central database as part of a government drive to tackle corruption, with new measurements for central government announced at last week’s Anti-Corruption Summit.

Where local authorities decide to provide a service in-house, they should provide one-off information to local residents about the decision, so residents can be satisfied that it delivers value for money.

Councils will also be required to publish, on an annual basis, details of what percentage of their procurement goes to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and how long it takes to pay invoices to SMEs.

The consultation says that the central government target of ensuring a third of procurement comes from SMEs by 2020 should also apply to local government.

In a report published in March, the National Audit Office said that more focus on this goal is needed to accomplish it.

The existing requirement for local authorities to publish data on parking enforcement will be expanded to include details such as a breakdown of the different types of fine.

The consultation also recommends that more should be done to make transparency data easy to access from a local authority website.

The consultation closes on 8 July. To take part, click here.

Have you got a story to tell? Would you like to become a PSE columnist? If so, click here.

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