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Employment A-Z

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Transparency - Publishing Data

Background - Transparency in Local Government

In June 2010 Government Ministers announced a programme for greater transparency in local government.  This included encouraging councils to publish details online of all items of expenditure over £500.

In September 2011, the Government published a code of recommended practice on data transparency setting minimum expectations of the data to be published by local authorities.  A further consultation took place which made the code legally binding.

The Localism Act 2011 requires each council to publish and approve a pay policy statement for each financial year setting out, among other things, the remuneration of chief officers, the ratio between the highest and lowest-paid employees, and a register of councillors’ pecuniary interests.

In March 2011, a code of recommended practice on local authority publicity was published.  The Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014 permitted the Secretary of State to instruct authorities to comply with the code.  The Bill is important as it also clarified the law with regard to filming and using social media in council meetings.

In September 2011, the Code of Recommended Practice for Local Authorities on Transparency was published by the Department for Communities and Local Government.  This was part of the Government’s pledge for greater transparency across the public sector through the publishing of data to strengthen accountability to citizens.

In May 2014, the Department of Communities and Local Government published the Local Government Transparency Code 2014.  The document sets out the minimum data that local authorities should be publishing, how it should be published and the frequency of it being published.  

Principles and Expectations

The Code incorporates a set of principles and minimum expectations of data to be published, as follows:

  • Expenditure over £500 (including costs, supplier and transaction information).  Any sole trader or body acting in a business capacity in receipt of payments of at least £500 of public money should expect such payments to be transparent.
  • Senior employee salaries, names (with the option for individuals to refuse to consent for their name to be published), job descriptions, responsibilities, budgets and numbers of staff.  ‘Senior employee salaries’ is defined as all salaries which are above £58,200 and above (irrespective of cost), which is the Senior Civil Service minimum pay band.  Budgets should include the overall salary cost of staff reporting to each senior employee.
  • An organisational chart of the staff structure of the local authority including salary bands and details of currently vacant posts.
  • The ‘pay multiple’ – the ratio between the highest paid salary and the median average salary of the whole of the authority’s workforce.
  • Councillor allowances and expenses.
  • Copies of contracts and tenders to businesses and to the voluntary community and social enterprise sector.
  • Grants to the voluntary community and social enterprise sector should be clearly itemised and listed.
  • Policies, performance, external audits and key inspections and key indicators on the authority’s fiscal and financial position.
  • The location of public land and building assets and key attribute information that is normally recorded on asset registers.
  • Data of democratic running of the local authority including the constitution, election results, committee minutes, decision-making processes and records of decisions.

Further Information

A copy of the Local Government Transparency Code 2014 and Frequently Asked Questions can be viewed by clicking on the links below.

Local Government Transparency Code 2014

Frequently Asked Questions

 

The LGA has made some updates to the guidance about publication including some recent clarifications around senior salaries and updating references to the account and audit regulations, which require councils to publish salary information.

(updated December 2015)