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May 27, 2011

  • News:  UK Councils Slammed For Card Abuse 

    It's another case of government employees abusing credit card privileges and carelessly spending taxpayers' money. A recent article by the Daily Telegraph revealed that some UK Councils have been using government credit cards on such questionable transactions as luxury gifts such as Tiffany jewelry, Gucci bags and silk ties. One West Sussex council even spent 1,150 pounds on two llamas to graze on communal land. Other council staff members have used government credit cards for travel accommodations at luxury hotels and first-class airline tickets. While taxpayers continue to struggle with high unemployment, excessive card debt, and inflation, it appears some council members have continued to live the good life at their expense.

    Some government members have come to the defense of those council members suspected of abusing taxpayer funded credit cards. Baroness Margaret Eaton, Chairman Local Government Association (LGA) said its card use is perfectly "legitimate" and "entirely appropriate and transparent." Other government officials say that credit card use is appropriate because it helps to eliminate a process that might slow down legitimate business and that card spending is only 0.03 percent of the council's overall spending budget. However, the Telegraph's investigation found that Cornwall Council's total card spending was the largest among all the councils and included top end hotel bills of more than 1,145,160 pounds involving trips to India, Bangkok, and Japan since 2008.

    News of the alleged misuse of taxpayer funded credit cards was released just as UK councils have initiated a spending cut of 28 percent over the next four years. Council members have launched their own investigation into the matter. They say that the Daily Telegraph's figures are inaccurate and are critical of the newspaper for not taking the necessary time to double check their figures or give the council a chance to respond. Alec Robertson of the Cornwall Council noted that the council is dedicated to protecting taxpayer money by acquiring the "best possible value" for their money. The question is; are council members so defensive because they are truly innocent, or did they simply just get caught with their hands in the cookie jar?

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