Questions answered

Frequently asked questions about council spending

How much does the council spend in total?

The council spends just over £1bn in a normal year on services to the public, benefit payments and investment in homes and local infrastructure. The council’s budget book with full details can be accessed here

What do I do if I have any questions?

Contact foi@towerhamlets.gov.uk or check out our Freedom of Information Act disclosure log.

Can I use this data as I see fit?

You can use the data for pretty much any purpose. The details of the licence are here.

Why is some information excluded?

The council does not publish information on payments to its staff or pensioners, or to foster parents, to protect the privacy of those people.  A separate list of senior staff and their pay may be found here.(CSV 20k)

Why is some information removed or redacted from the records?

The council is under a legal duty of care not to reveal certain details. This includes:

Why is there a separate listing for purchase cards?

The council uses a system of purchase cards provided to certain authorised officers for certain limited types of purchases. This works through a separate system provided with the council’s bank, it is not possible easily to combine the two reports.

Why are some of the items similar. Does this indicate duplicate payments?

No. It probably indicates that there was one more than one similar item billed for on the same invoice. The council’s financial systems have built-in checks to avoid duplicate payments.

Can the council spend its budget how it likes?

No, the council must spend its money in a way that provides value for money. People have different views about what adds value, which is why elected Members have an important role in allocating resources.

We set each manager a budget each year and they are not authorised to spend more than that amount, and every manager is responsible for ensuring that everything their department spends adds value and that nothing is wasted.

We have controls in place that ensure services are procured in accordance with the law and provide best value. In a very large and complex organisation, mistakes can be made, but we do everything we reasonably can to make sure that doesn’t happen.