Councils’ books can be checked

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A NEW online search engine shows Doncaster taxpayers when they can inspect their council’s detailed financial spending and ledgers as part of greater public transparency.

Every council is required by law to make its accounts available to the public for 20 days a year.

This includes every invoice, payment and receipt registered in the council’s ledgers.

It applies to all expenditure, not just amounts over £500, which most authorities in the country, including Doncaster, now publish online routinely.

To help residents and armchair auditors to find out when they have a right to inspect, an online search engine has been published setting out the open day period for over 280 councils.

Ministers have said they would like to see all councils sign up to the catalogue. Accounting rules have already been amended to require councils to publicise these little known rights to inspect.

For the majority of taxpayers the window of opportunity to see these documents is open now, or due to begin shortly. .

To find out when you can check the accounts at your council, simply enter your postcode, town or council name into the search engine to find the councils details. Alternatively they can search through a map function. This service is only available in England and is dependent on local authorities registering with the local directgov team: http://local.direct.gov.uk/LDGRedirect/index.jsp?LGSL=1584&LGIL=8 (external link).