Stat of the day: £5,000

The amount spent on a 'bongo-drumming' away day by civil servants. They've also whacked £258 on Whitehall credit cards for finger puppets, and £120 for bespoke cakes.

by Rebecca Burn-Callander
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

Times are tough in the public sector. Between lay-offs, slashed bonuses and rows over pensions and working hours, it's not the most cushy time to be an employee of the Government. To rub salt in the wound, a new report has been issued highlighting the 'profligate' purchases made under the last Government. And can anything be more self-indulgent than an afternoon spent bongo drumming, charged to the public purse?

Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude is releasing these tales of Labour luxury while reporting that spending on Whitehall charge cards has been cut by £45m since the Coalition came to power. In terms of anti-Labour spin, it’s pretty impressive.

As part of a new era of transparency for the government, the Cabinet Office is set to publish each item of credit-card spending by officials above £500 since April. Should make for an entertaining read.

Back to the bongos. The hapless ministers that have been outed for their rhythmic squandering of public funds came from the Communities Department. But they're not the only ones to enjoy a bit of bongo fun. Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials spent £38,636.40 on the same events company from 2006 to last year. Their testimonial on the Poisson Rouge website reads: "Everyone thought the Rhythm Challenge was great fun."

Other culprits include: the Department of Health, which spent £258 on Puppets by Post, and £124 on three cake orders from high-end bakery Konditor & Cook.


Picture: [F]oxymoron

Find this article useful?

Get more great articles like this in your inbox every lunchtime

Interview ghosting: Stop treating job seekers like bad dates

Don’t underestimate the business impact of a simple rejection letter.

5 avoidable corporate disasters

And the lessons to learn from them.

Dressing to impress: One for the dustbin of history?

Opinion: Businesswomen are embracing comfort without sacrificing impact. Returning to the office shouldn't change that....

How to motivate people from a distance

Recognising success in a remote or hybrid environment requires a little creativity, says Insight SVP...

What pushy fish can teach you about influence at work

Research into marine power struggles casts light on the role of influence and dominant bosses...

The traits that will see you through Act II of the COVID crisis ...

Executive briefing: Sally Bailey, NED and former CEO of White Stuff.