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Somerset County Council defends £4.6m credit card bill
COUNTY council bosses have defended the authority’s spending – after it was revealed staff have racked up a bill of £4.6million with council-issued credit cards over the past 18 months.
The figure emerged following a request under the Freedom of Information Act.
Payment cards are issued to stop employees from using their own money on council purchases and having to claim it back later in the form of expenses.
The FOI request revealed 51,421 purchases were made over the 18-month period, racking up a total of £4,621,001.50.
The highest purchase was for replacement PDAs and tablet PCs for highways inspectors – a total of £14,834.80. The old equipment was consideredobsolete after years of use.
However, the smallest transaction was just 1p, to establish an account with suppliers such as Apple. The smallest purchase was 12p on music downloads made by a school.
There was a total of 849 cards issued over the past 18 months but currently there are 811 card holders – 748 of which are actually active.
The rest are cards which have been damaged, lost or needed to be replaced.
A list of the areas the cards were held in included dozens of primary schools and secondary schools across Taunton Deane, The Museum of Somerset, Six Acres Resource Centre in Taunton, Somerset Heritage Centre in Norton Fitzwarren, Taunton Library and Sunnyside Care Home in Williton.
A SCC spokesman said: “A credit card is a far cheaper and efficient way of buying goods, particularly for our schools, children’s centres and other local offices which make up the bulk of the holders.
“They are simply a tool for budgetedspending, andcontrols on their use are vigorous.
“The cost of processing every purchase order and paying an invoice is reckoned by the Government to be about £28, compared to the negligible cost of a credit card purchase.
“In fact, not only do our cards have a zero annual fee, we also have a cashback deal that earned us £6,100 last year.”
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