Spending watchdog not watching its spending (of our money) – again

Not content with spending money from the public purse on lavish lunches at top London restaurants, the Audit Commission ran up a bill totalling £779,003 between April 2009 and March this year.  Of that, £566,000 was spent on hotel accommodation for its staff while the rest was apparently spent on meetings and training events.

Not to be outdone by MPs moated duck-houses and mock Tudor frontages, it’s not the local B&B for the Audit Commission where only top hotels like Tophams Belgravia with an average room rate per night is £143..48. the Radisson Mountbatten at £140.77 and the Novotel London Tower Bridge costing £154.90 a night.  Over £118,000 was spent at the City Inn Westminster where the rate is £132.99 per night – that’s 889 nights accommodation during the period in question.

Ironically, Grant Shapps, the Housing Minister says the figures are “astounding” and added that they showed how “the commissions liked to live the high life on the taxpayer”.  He should know, having claimed around £12,647 in expenses over a four year period including hotel accommodation – he is, of course, one of those who appear not to abuse his position and his expenses over that period pall into insignificance when compared with the claims of other MPs.

The commission claim that when staff come to London for meetings at its Westminster headquarters and have to stay overnight, then the claims are “necessary”.  But this news, hot on the heels of revelations a few days ago that they have spend more than £20,000 on top London Michelin-starred restaurants, luxury chocolates, cinema tickets and even flowers and doughnuts during the same period as well as the previous reports of their spending £53,000 on luxury office furniture include swivel chairs costing £854 each, it makes one wonder what else is going on behind the scenes of this self-important body whose role is to review spending from the public purse, not cause more to be spent.

Eric Pickles says the commission will be scrapped and it is said that £50million will be saved by its closure.  Hold on a minute, how is it that this quango was set up in the first place if it costing this much to run – that’s criminal negligence of the highest order.

We can’t wait to see the back of this bunch of duplicitous quangoites and we’ll try to keep tabs on where they land after the commission is scrapped – one thing is certain that in the public sector, no bad deed goes unrewarded and none of those who have lived the high life from the public purse will lose their job.

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