From this autumn, Croydon residents will be able to keep tabs on council spending – but deputy leader Councillor Dudley Mead has warned this may come at the expense of vital services.
From November, the authority will publicise their accounts in line with the coalition government’s transparency agenda.
Local taxpayers will be able to see how their money is being spent, with the council publishing items of expenditure over £500 on their website monthly.
Communities secretary Eric Pickles has advised that it is the best way to spot duplication, sort through waste and increase value for money.
However, the council has warned that providing information cannot be done without incurring additional costs. If future publication guidelines require a more detailed breakdown, this would have to be paid for by cutting a different area of public service.
Cllr Mead, cabinet member for housing, finance and asset management, said: “We recognise that transparency is the bedrock of accountability and we go along with the minister’s view that local people should be able to hold politicians and public bodies to account over how their council tax is being spent.
“But there is another side to the coin. We believe we can meet the minister’s current expectations without incurring extra expense but any further requirements for greater detail will mean prioritising this over other services.”
“We must be careful that the costs of openness don’t spiral out of control.”
Croydon council is ahead of the government’s targets for publishing financial details by providing information regarding the salaries of top staff, and the allowances and expenses paid to councillors.