In its response to a DCLG consultation on the Local Government Transparency Code, London Councils has said that any new data requirements must be reasonable, proportionate and of benefit to local taxpayers.
Currently, the code sets out the minimum data that local authorities should be publishing, including the requirement for local authorities to publish any expenditure over £500. Government, however, wants to impose a raft of new data requirements on councils.
Mayor Jules Pipe, Chair of London Councils, said:
“London boroughs have suffered huge cuts in their funding over recent years despite taking on many new responsibilities that have either been underfunded or not funded at all.
“Asking them to publish vast quantities of data – with no apparent purpose other than for the convenience of the government – would add yet further burdens.
“Data must be published for a specific reason, with good reason and evidence for doing so – not simply for its own sake.”
London Councils also raised concerns about proposals for local authorities to publish information to justify why a service is being kept in-house.
It said this was not consistent with the purpose of principles of data transparency and ‘crossed a line’ between access to factual information and value judgments about the desirability of policies.
In addition, it said it was troubled by government’s intention to require councils to publish data about whether land is surplus to requirements, and if there are plans to release this for housing developments. ‘These are planning policy matters, not transparency considerations and should be dealt with accordingly’, it commented in its consultation response.
London Councils' full consultation response can be found here.