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Time for City of London to be more transparent about its City Cash accounts – New Year’s resolution?

 

Occupy London has just received an early Christmas present: Fr. William Taylor, has this morning published the City of London Corporation City Cash accounts from 2007 on his blog ‘Hackney Preacher‘. [1]

Occupy London is grateful to see people willing to come forward and contribute to the much needed dialogue and debate around social and economic justice.

One of the key requests that Occupy London had asked of the City of London Corporation was that it make its City Cash accounts fully available to public scrutiny. [2] As with all our three requests, this was ignored by the Corporation, but it is hugely encouraging to see that individuals do respect our wishes for transparency and have acted on their own initiative.

This action is the result of Fr Taylor’s concern that a public body is spending millions of its ‘private money’ lobbying for the interests of finance. The influence on government by corporate lobbying has been a key focus of the Occupy movement, underlining the fact that profits have been put before people for way too long. [3] [4]

In the words of one of our witnesses jn the High Court case for eviction brought by the City Of London Corporation, which the judge has said there will be no judgement on until at least 11 January, the “Government does not represent the people, Occupy does”.

The fact that Fr Taylor has chosen this time to release the cash records sheds a telling light on the current urgency of the Corporation to evict the camp as soon as possible, so that business as usual can continue.

Fr. William Taylor was a Common Councillor in the City of London Corporation from 2001 to 2003 and again from 2005 to 2008. As such he had access to the City’s private ‘City’s Cash’ accounts. He has this morning published the accounts from 2007 on his blog ‘Hackney preacher’.

There is also a guest blog post on Reclaim the City’s website which provides further background details to the City Cash accounts. [5] In this blog entry are excerpts from the minutes of the City Corporation full council meeting from Nov 08, Dec 08, Jan 09. The excerpts relate to the matter of the City’s Cash. As a councillor, Fr William Taylor had been asking questions in Common Council that relate to its ownership and the City’s accountability.

In the interests of transparency and clarity, Occupy London would like it noted that shortly after the end of 2011, it will be publishing details of its own accounts online.

Notes
[1] The Nativity of Our Lord
http://hackneypreacher.com/2011/12/the-nativity-of-our-lord/
[2] Occupy London responds to Corporation of London proposal http://occupylsx.org/?p=941
[3] The best influence money can buy – the 10 Worst Corporate Lobbyists http://www.newint.org/features/2011/01/01/10-worst-corporate-lobbyists/
[4] Caught on camera: top lobbyists boasting how they influence the PM

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/caught-on-camera-top-lobbyists-boasting-how-they-influence-the-pm-6272760.html
[5] Guest post: City Cash by Fr. William Taylor http://www.reclaimthecity.org/1/post/2011/12/guest-post-city-cash-by-fr-william-taylor.html

 

8 Responses to “Time for City of London to be more transparent about its City Cash accounts – New Year’s resolution?”

  1. So what the cash account shows is that out of expenditure of £130M, £55M is spent on schools, £19.5M on open spaces, and £17.7M on markets. £3.3M for Economic Development and Policy Initiatives is probably all that amounts to lobbying, and is a tiny amount given that the authority house the world’s largest financial centre. I’d fully expect any local authority to lobby on behalf of the industries in their jurisdiction. Whilst I’m all for transparency, there really isn’t much interesting here.

     
    • What is interesting is that a local authority thinks its ok to keep it’s accounts hidden from the people it is supposed to represent. it is a basic principal of democratic government that we know were the money is going.

       
  2. The overall presentation of the City Cash accounts published by Fr Taylor follow the exact principles laid down by the Charity Commission. This raises the question as to whether or not this aspect of the City of London’s work is charitable or not, whether or not the City Cash Account is a registered charity and if not why not?; and if it is, surely these accounts are in the public domain anyway? My point is that if, as claimed, this account is in some sense ‘private’, why on earth would anyone go to the trouble of making it look like a charity??? The ‘charity format’ for accounts is extremely demanding, and no one is going to go to the trouble of meeting those standards unless absolutely necessary. THIS IS NOT SOME OBSCURE FINANCIAL NICETY, BUT COULD BE CENTRAL TO THE ISSUES THAT ARE BEING RAISED.

     
  3. When you say ‘profits have been put before people for far too long,’ surely we would be foolish to destroy the city when it has contributed so much to the public coffers, If we give this jewel away then there are other countries only too willing to take its place and hijack the revenue we crucially need.
    That revenue pays for public sector pensions…you know the ones which Occupy would like to keep artificially high! There is no coherent argument from occupy London on how to balance the budget justa kneejerk reaction to a recession. In your hands our future would be Greece where everyone pretends that financial obligations can be swept under the carpet so that no-one takes a hit and people are encouraged to loot and riot in order to satisfy those who like anarchy and complain about the lack of fairness in society. Well no-one pretended it was perfect but we have fair elections (compare to Syria, Russia, China,India), right to protest, opportunity, you are probably reading this on one of your phones, PCs, netbooks, (relative to others you have so much). Occupy protestors are envious and there is no fix for that except a reality check! Should footballers be paid so much, should celebrities get paid so much, bankers, politicians, tube drivers, council staff, we dont live in USSR here pay isnt equal, there are vast differences in pay all over our society, you want to earn more, then go for it, why do you think we have so many immigrants in London, because of the opportunities here.

     
    • I really don’t think the City pays as much into the coffers as you seem to suggest. If they’re structured in any way like extremely-high-net-worth individuals, banks and corporations, they’ll be incorporated off-shore and pay little to no tax at all. The tax office loses £120 billion each year through off-shore practices like these; enough money to easily pay down the deficit, the debt and still have money left over to expand the NHS, education and afford public sector pensions. The debt exists because we, the people, had to bail out the banks from their own failings; the deficit exists not because we, the people, ‘cost’ too much but because the rich and powerful do not pay the taxes they should – let alone any that are proposed, which, of course, they will side step as well. The government, elected by us, the people, to represent our interests, not those of the banks and corporations, would do well to close off the loopholes in the tax law that allow these basically fraudulent activities to rob us, the people, of the tax income necessary to support the sort of society we, the people, want. It really isn’t a case of simply working harder.

       
  4. How pompous…your commentary suggests there is some deep dark secret which you want to uncover, however there are none and no easy answers. It will take years to fix the economic problems and it wont include marching on the streets or relinquishing the powerful financial centre in London without it we cant afford to make the budget work so why not suggest some constructive ideas.

     
  5. If this leads to greater transparency that will be great.

    I’d like to see publicly listed companies forced to publish more of what they get up to. For example internships in the banks – who gets them and why.

     

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