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District council’s credit card spending trebles
SPENDING on “credit cards” used by Wyre Forest District Council has trebled during the past year.
Figures, obtained by The Shuttle using a Freedom of Information request, show 13 council officers have been issued with Barclaycard “Government procurement cards”, which have an annual intrest rate of 24 per cent.
Taxpayers footed the £66,370 bill for 607 purchases between April, 2012 and March, 2013 – including at Starbucks, Subway and Bewdley Brewery – compared with £20,335 on 149 transactions the year before.
The council’s deputy leader, Conservative councillor Marcus Hart, said usage had increased because it was a “more efficient way to pay for goods and services and cut costs”.
No interest charges have yet been incurred as bills are paid in full each month.
Information seen by The Shuttle shows the 2012/13 bill included £1,630 for 70 train journeys and £11 for a taxi journey. Broadband company Plusnet was paid £3,232 and £60 was spent on food and drink in Caffe Nero, Starbucks and Subway.
Two visits to French restaurant Cafe Rouge cost £98.93 in total and £25 was spent at the Bewdley Brewery. Cards also funded 19 supermarket visits totalling £173 and payments were also made for IT equipment, vehicle maintenance and transactions to Worcestershire County Council.
Mr Hart added: “The council issues a limited number of staff with a procurement card to minimise the bureaucracy and cost of making payments or of reimbursing staff for travel or other expenditure they have incurred on the council’s behalf.
“There are clear rules about the cards being used only for legitimate purchases on council business.
All the expenditure could, therefore, have been incurred by other routes but at the additional cost of greater bureaucracy.
“Payments made by procurement cards represent only a small fraction of the council’s total expenditure.”
He added such cards were “extensively used by many other public bodies, including Government departments”.
The cash-strapped authority is just one of several councils taking up the scheme at a time when Government grants are being slashed – with others spending hundreds of thousands or even millions of pounds using the cards.
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