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Wales Audit Office urged to investigate Welsh Government credit card spend

Welsh Conservatives have called on the Wales Audit Office to undertake a review of the use of company credit cards by Welsh Government employees. The calls come after the Welsh Labour Government refused to publish the findings of an internal report into their use.

 

Millions of pounds are being spent on ‘procurement cards’ by Welsh Government employees, according to new figures obtained by the Leader of the Welsh Conservatives.

 

In the last three years a total of £3.8 million has been spent by holders of the cards, of which there are currently 218 in circulation.

 

Spending in 14/15 was £1.3 million, a figure which is set to soar to almost £2 million this year according to a Written Assembly Question (WAQ) by Andrew RT Davies AM.

 

 

Year-On-Year Spend

 

2012/13

£1.144 million

2013/14

£1.315 million

2014/15

£1.304 million

2015/16*

£475,540*

 

*As of 30th June 2015 (Quarter 1) – indicates spending is on course to rise to £1.9 million this year.

 

Responding to a written question tabled by Mr Davies, the Welsh Government recently confirmed that a “review of the Welsh Government’s procurement card process” was conducted in April 2014.

 

When pressed to publish a copy of the report in a follow-up question, the Finance Minister Jane Hutt refused:

 

“The Welsh Government does not release the results of reviews undertaken by our Internal Audit Service.  However, all internal audit reports are shared with the WAO should they wish to pursue issues further.”

 

In a letter to the Auditor General today, Welsh Conservative Leader, Andrew RT Davies, called for greater transparency in the use of public money.

 

He called on the Wales Audit Office to order the Welsh Government to publish its report, or to conduct their own review.

 

He said:

 

“Whilst accepting that procurement cards have a role to play, particularly in reducing the bureaucratic cost of processing small claims by Welsh Government employees, there is no transparency in the current system and therefore no accountability.

 

“Millions of pounds are being spent on staff credit cards by Welsh Government employees, and the public needs to have confidence that the system isn’t being abused and that the taxpayer is getting value for money.

 

“Unfortunately Assembly Members are being restricted in their ability to scrutinise that expenditure because of the Welsh Labour Government’s refusal to publish an internal report which looked at the use of these cards.

 

“It is in the public interest for the Welsh Government to demonstrate that they have identified the risks associated with the use of these cards, and that they are taking steps to properly monitor their use.

 

“Unfortunately, the Minister is refusing to publish that report which leaves a number of questions unanswered: is the taxpayer getting value for money? Why is spending up so sharply in the first part of this year, and did the Welsh Government act on the recommendations of their 2014 report?”

 

Shadow Finance Minister, Nick Ramsay, said it had long been Welsh Conservative policy to improve transparency in public expenditure.

He said:

“We would unleash an army of ‘armchair auditors’ to scrutinise Welsh Government accounts.

“A Welsh Conservative Government would do this by encouraging public bodies to publish all expenditure above £500 online, so ordinary members of the public can judge for themselves whether their government is delivering value for money.”