Page last updated at 15:42 GMT, Thursday, 20 May 2010 16:42 UK

Local council spending over 500 to be published online

David Cameron and Nick Clegg
The coalition government outlined plans aimed at improving transparency

Councils in England and Wales will be required to publish all items of spending above £500, under new plans.

The coalition government's plans, aimed at improving transparency, also mean councils will have to publish contracts and tender documents in full.

A document outlining the coalition deal states a need to "throw open the doors of public bodies" to enable the public to hold them to account.

The Tories and Lib Dems called the document outlining the deal "historic".

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The coalition's programme promises to 'extend the scope of the Freedom of Information Act' - but is surprisingly lacking in further detail, given the campaign promises made by both parties
Martin Rosenbaum
Freedom of information blogger

The coalition government also said it would require online disclosure of all central government spending and contracts over £25,000.

Prime Minister David Cameron pledged to make these changes when the Conservatives were in opposition.

At the time he said his party would end what it called "Labour's secretive and wasteful contracts regime".

The coalition government's plans also include making all councils publish meeting minutes, as well as local service and performance data.

And the document states that "all data published by public bodies" will be "published in an open and standardised format", so that it can be used easily and with minimal cost by third parties.

In the document the government said the plans "will help to deliver better value for money in public spending, and help us achieve our aim of cutting the record deficit".

Dame Margaret Eaton, chairman of the Local Government Association, said: "There are a range of proposals in the government's programme that would devolve power to councils to deliver for local people. We will need to work closely with ministers on the details.

"Councils have already delivered the lowest council tax rise ever for this financial year. Councils will work with the government to keep council tax as low as possible, deliver savings across the public sector and protect front line services that people need."

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