Once the contract is agreed how much government pays to suppliers should be a matter of public record. Yet government - especially local government - still hides behind the provision in the 1972 Local Government Act allowing secrecy in the case of 'commercial confidentiality'.
Here Transparency International reports a couple of pretty shocking examples:
Transparency International cited Hackney London Borough Council as one case where redactions had made scrutiny difficult. In one month alone the council reported £14m worth of redacted transaction data that did not identify suppliers.The provision in the Act, in my view, is there to allow fair negotiation of contracts not to privilege price information about public contracts. It is in everyone's interests - the public, organisations competing for public contracts, public employees - for this information to be available for scrutiny.
It also reported that Lancashire CC redacted numerous payments for a multi-billion pound PFI scheme, leaving no information about the name of the contractor, and Nottingham CC redacted the details of £10m - worth of expenditure.