The Conservative Party has unveiled a new scheme enabling taxpayers to discover how their tax money is spent by the government.
Shadow chancellor George Osborne has announced plans for legislation to bring transparency into state spending by requiring the Treasury to set up and run a special website showing where the government is allocating resources collected in tax.
This ‘Google your tax pounds’ proposal would result in every single item of expenditure above 25,000 – except when related to national security or personal privacy – being placed on the website.
Osborne says: “For too long, government spending has been shrouded in Whitehall secrecy.
It’s been difficult for the public to find out exactly where their tax money is being spent.
That’s why we are introducing new legislation in the House of Lords that will throw open the government’s books and enable everyone to find out how their tax money is being spent.”
He adds: “Every item of government spending over 25,000, except where related to national security, will be published on a single website. For the first time, anyone will be able to ‘Google their tax pounds’.”
A similar idea has recently been signed into law with bipartisan support in the United States.
Osborne says: “I urge Gordon Brown to support our legislation in a similar spirit. This proposal will alter the relationship between the public and the government.
It will make it easier for people to hold the government to account for its spending at the click of a button, and help to encourage better value for money from public spending.
Under the scheme, every item of government expenditure over 25,000 would be put on the website, and a powerful search engine would allow you to dig into how and where the government spends taxpayers’ cash.
The Conservatives will introduce a government Spending Transparency Bill into Parliament before Christmas, and if approved the measure could become law by Easter.
Spending on matters of national security will be exempted from the Bill, as will matters of personal privacy protected by the Data Protection Act.
The Tories say that making all spending transparent will add significant pressure to improve the efficiency of government spending, because everyone will be able to see all the wasteful spending.
The Treasury will take the lead in ensuring that information is available in real time as part of its new role of ensuring value for money. The Tories claim the project will not itself cost the government as it will be managed within the existing Treasury budget.