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Welsh Government credit cards used for Michelin-star dining, luxury hotels, chocolates and scarves

Welsh Government credit cards have been used to pay for hundreds of pounds worth of scarves and chocolates while thousands has been spent on luxury dining and hotels, figures reveal.

More than £1.8 million was spent on Government credit cards in 2016/17 including £1,652.50 on seven visits to the Michelin-starred James Sommerin Restaurant in Penarth, where a six course taster menu costs £70, or £110 with wine.

Top Lines:

*Welsh Government spent £203,644.83 on flights.

*Without events and hospitality, the total spend on luxury 4* and 5* hotels in 2016/17 was £110,889.688.

*With events, this rose to £141,880.97, including a whopping £14,480.40 on exhibitions in the 5* Shanghai Peace Hotel.

*Carwyn’s Chicago trip in September meant £1876.65 was spent on limousines (Metropolitan Limousines) and £3204.32 on the 4* Sofitel Chicago hotel.

* £5,418 was spent on Uber.

*£3,028.22 was spent on Yachting and boating.

*£8,604 was spent on luxury dining – with £1,652.50 alone being spent on 7 visits to the Michelin-starred James Sommerin Restaurant in Penarth (6 course taster menu is £70, rising to £110 with wine; 9 course tasting menu is £90, rising to £150 with wine; the cheapest main course is £17 and the Welsh Lamb is £26). The Hardwicke and the Glass Boat in Bristol also feature (and that was for corporate hospitality!).

*The Welsh Government spent £359.38 on Nom Nom Chocolate, where bars retail from £4.50 – Wickedly Welsh Chocolate are slightly cheaper, retailing from £3.99, and have more flavours (link).

*Shouldn’t have gone to Specsavers! £16,060.20 was spent on trips to Specsavers in 2016/17.

*Finally, on some of the sundries, £110.87 was spent on iTunes, and there are some interesting ones including an ironic £358.80 in subscription fees to Newsquest, purchases from John Lewis and the purchase from JFK School of Government Executives for personal development, and the £698 to the Quilting Bee.

Shadow Finance Secretary, Nick Ramsay, said:

“The bill for Welsh Government credit cards is out of control, with staff spending more and more each year.

“The public needs to have confidence that the system isn’t being abused, and the raft of flamboyant transactions undertaken by civil servants will have eyes rolling.

“The purpose of these cards is to reduce the bureaucratic cost of processing small claims – not to make it easy to splash the cash with impunity in lavish restaurants and boutique hotels.

“Worryingly, since 2011, staff in the Welsh Labour Government have racked up over £9 million in credit card bills and it’s time for the system to be thoroughly investigated by the Auditor General.”