A Few Days On – Council Credit (Debit) Cards

The outrage over the spending on corporate credit cards shows no sign of being swiped away. The sheer scale of it has astounded many. The Council has released a short press statement that is nothing more than a holding exercise. The publication of the details probably came at the worst time with a Bank Holiday and half-term leaving many key in the know people away.

In response to the details in the Telegraph I sent an email with various questions to the Head of Corporate Resources. I am grateful for his quick reply to those questions. I got the clarification on the types of cards in use, and if any interest is paid. The cards in use are not Credit Card but a Payment Card (technically a deferred debit card). These are organised through the Office of Gov’t Commerce arrangements and more importantly, there are no interest payments.

Cornwall Council’s stance is to encourage the use of the Debit Card (procurement card in Council speak) for low value transactions because it is a very efficient payment and processing methodology. Suppliers like it because it is fast. Cornwall Council like it because the transaction costs are negligible (supplier pays) and transactions are processed into our systems electronically. This roughly saves around £33 per transaction in processing cost.

The topic of Silk Ties is one that has made most headlines, and this issue has also been clarified. Even though I am not a tie wearer these ties are in fact Cornwall Council Ties; which are available to purchase by Councillors. So it seems apart from the initial outlay there should be no long term cost to the taxpayer.

Not all my questions have been asked, but they will be as they just needed further details (ledger codes) before I will get those answers. I have also been told that further details will be available at Thursdays Corporate Resources Scrutiny Committee.

This whole episode has further harmed the reputation of the Council, even though many of the areas of spending do have a reasonable answer. As I said before, it is the restaurant bill and excessive travel spending that is my greatest area of concern.

Stay tuned for the next instalment of Cardgate

One comment

  • Anonymous

    I am more concerned about why it costs the council £33 to process a transaction – this seems way over the top and smacks of excessive beaurocracy. Can you ask for a detailed justification of this figure?

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