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A few sites I've stumbled across recently....

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The Public Teat

Some time ago, I rather idly suggested to DK the idea of a companion website for This would look at those companies that were living off the taxpayer. It would essentially be a searchable database, where you could look up how much a company was raking in from which bit of the state. It would be called The Public Teat.

By way of an experiment, I applied for the type of information I was envisaging from the DCSF - a department picked pretty much at random. I was a bit surprised to find that I got a response indicating that the information would largely be forthcoming. Bitter experience had suggested that most civil servants will try a refusal first, just to see if you will go away.

I had formulated the request quite carefully. Obviously, I was asking for a lot of data, so I asked for spend only through the main system, with the data restricted to supplier name, postcode and spend for the year.  This meant that it was essentially a simple query through the purchase ledger, perhaps with a join of to the supplier data file to pick up the name and postcode. I asked for the information as an electronic file too, so there were no cost implications.

The response arrived today and as so often in these cases, what was missing was almost more interesting than what was included.  DCSF had raised concerns over privacy as a possible issue in their acknowledgement, and I had said that I would be happy for them to redact the names and postcodes, leaving just a list of amounts.

I was therefore disappointed to see that despite this, they had decided to removed all information about individual suppliers in its entirety. Why would they do that? My guess is that there are probably some individuals who are taking very large sums from DCSF and the disclosure of even the amounts would be embarrassing. But then I've got a nasty suspicious mind. I've reverted to DCSF for the missing information.

The response file is here.



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Reader Comments (6)

Lots of payments to hotels in there.

The numbers are quite scary. 11.8 billion to the Learning & Skills Council, 7.2 bn to the HEFC, 5.3 bn to student loans...

The total is 66bn, and yet according to the 2008/09 departmental report the DCSF was only planning to spend 63bn. But what's a few billion here or there amongst friends?

Jul 17, 2009 at 2:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames Barlow

£4m to "Sing Up!"

£7 m to

"CILT, the National Centre for Languages is the Government’s recognised centre of expertise on languages. Our mission is to promote a greater capability in languages amongst all sectors of the UK population. CILT is also the standards-setting body for languages, interpreting and translation and the recognised expert body for language and cultural skills for the UK-wide Skills for Business Network."

£7m to the National Children's Bureau (a charity), representing a third of their annual income

£7m to The Book Trust (a charity), representing around half of their annual income.

£15m to CASBT LIMITED, which I can't find listed at Companies House. Something to do with "Music & Dance"

Jul 17, 2009 at 3:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames Barlow

CSA BT Ltd is the Choir Schools Association.

Jul 17, 2009 at 10:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterAndrew K

Well done, Your Grace.

There is a stack of fascinating info here.

I wonder if other departments would be as accomodating...

Jul 20, 2009 at 9:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterWat Tyler


22 million for the TUC, union dues or what?

Very interesting , thanks for sharing.

Jul 20, 2009 at 5:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterDubious

SE1 7DU Central Office of Information*do not use*use 10009 2,353,705.03

£2.3m in a Do Not Use account? what's this about?

Jul 21, 2009 at 10:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterGrimy Miner

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