Usually government transparency data is pretty boring, but I noticed something interesting in this week’s report from BIS.
All spending at £500 or above has to be reported for all to see.
And yesterday’s report included this intriguing nugget:
£500 was spent at The Athaenum on a government credit card (although spelt slightly incorrectly – but it can only be The Athenaeum). This is the exclusive London club known to be a favourite hangout of vice chancellors when they visit London.
If the bill had come to £499.99 then it would never have been reported here.
It’s not hard to imagine a scene – Friday in late May, a vice chancellor or two, dinner, several rounds of drinks with either a minister or very senior civil servant in a position to splash out like this on the public purse. By the time they realise the bill has reached the magic £500 threshold, it was too late…
The Athenaeum also has hotel rooms – so maybe it was that. But if so, it would be about the most expensive way to stay a night in London and so equally difficult to justify.
In any case, we can probably expect party pooper Sajid Javid to crack down on this sort of thing as he finds cuts to BIS of around 40% in the coming spending review.