Monthly column: The culture of flagrant use of taxpayers’ money on Government Ministers’ expenses must end

Elizabeth Tower and Houses of Parliament London Image Shutterstock Alexey Fedorenko
Elizabeth Tower and the Houses of Parliament. Image: Shutterstock/Alexey Fedorenko

Parliament is currently in recess which always gives me the opportunity to visit as many people as possible in Bedford and Kempston in the week I don’t have to be in Westminster.

The cost-of-living crisis is understandably the number one concern of everyone I speak to, but people are also sick and tired of the endless scandals and financial mismanagement of the Government.

That’s why I was dismayed to read Labour’s recent investigation into the Government’s flagrant use of Government Procurement Cards (GPCs) which detailed nearly £150million of taxpayers’ money being squandered across every part of the government over the last two years on five-star hotels, fine art and fine dining while the public struggle to pay the bills.

Across the whole of 2021, the 14 departments examined spent a total of at least £145.5mn using GPC’s which allow purchases to be made directly against departmental budgets without going through regular invoicing procedures.

That compares to a total of £84.9mn spent by the equivalent departments in 2010/11, an increase of £60.6mn, or 71.38%, in ten years.

When thousands of pounds of public money are being spent on these cards so they personally can travel in style, stay in luxury hotels, and eat at the best restaurants, do they not realise how much difference those amounts would make right now to the average household?

I think of the low-paid workers and families who got in touch with me because they cannot afford to eat properly or turn the heating on.

We keep being told there is no more money available to support households or public service workers, including all those striking to be paid enough to live on, and then think of the same Government Ministers claiming there’s no money in the Treasury treating taxpayer’s money as their own.

It’s just another example of this Government’s profligacy in public spending and record keeping on top of the billions wasted on giving government contracts – especially on sourcing PPE to friends and Tory donors.

This gravy train cannot continue, and under a Labour government, we will make sure it ends by setting up an “Office for Value for Money” to uphold transparency and high standards in public spending.

This is a monthly guest column provided by
Mohammad Yasin, Labour MP for Bedford and Kempston.
It is published unedited and does not reflect
the views of the Bedford Independent.

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