Peter Hoskin

Bravo, Mr Pickles

Bravo, Mr Pickles
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I think it's fair to say that Eric Pickles doesn't look like a pioneer of the Cameroonian "Post-Bureaucratic Age". But that's exactly what he is, as his department becomes the first to publish data on all its spending over £500. At the moment, the document provides plenty of ammunition for – rather than against – the coalition, covering as it does the financial year between 6 April 2009 and 5 April 2010. And thus we read of how, under the last administration, £17,000 was spent at a luxury hotel, £635,000 on taxis, £13,000 on Manchester United catering costs, and so on. But this isn't just a retrospective exercise: the prospect of these figures being released in future should hopefully restrain some of the more egregious spending now.

This caps what has been a quietly effective few months from Eric Pickles. His media profile seems to have dropped dramatically since the election, but it has been replaced by some diligent and encouraging policy work. From imposing restrictions on lobbyists to decentralising power away from Whitehall, there are clear signs the DCLG is firmly in the radicalism trade. Now let's hope that other departments can follow that lead, and be just as transparent about their spending too.