Government publishes £100bn grants register

27 Oct 2017 News

The government has published data relating to £100bn in government grants across different departments in a bid to improve transparency and enable scrutiny and help prevent fraud. 

It initially published the data on Wednesday afternoon, but it was unpublished to make “minor corrections” and republished yesterday lunchtime. 

The government has published two sets of data. One covers the Department for Transport and the Ministry of Justice; this has been made available in a standard format, as developed by the 360Giving initiative, and the government expects to expand this to other departments in the future. 

The other is a wider grants register covering the whole of government. This is in a similar format to previous grants registers, such as the one released in February 2016.

Grants from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, which houses the Office for Civil Society, totalled £461m. 

The grant to the National Citizen Service programme was £191m and the largest grant made by the department. 

‘Drive efficiency, effectiveness and transparency’

The new data format follows the introduction of the Government Grant Information Service (GGIS). The service was partly a response to the fallout from the collapse of Kids Company, which had received funding from several different government departments over the years. 

John Manzoni, chief executive of the civil service and Cabinet Office permanent secretary, said: “Through the GGIS, for the first time, we are able to collect more extensive data across government departments, not only on the levels of grant giving, but also how the process is being managed within each department.

“The new system will reinforce our drive for efficiency, effectiveness and transparency in how we do our business in government and gives us greater assurance identifying and preventing fraud.”

Fran Perrin, founder of 360Giving, said: “By adopting the 360Giving Standard as many grant makers are now doing, their data can be more easily shared and used alongside that of other grantmakers.

“More open, comparable data will improve the sector's ability to make informed, evidence-based funding decisions and ultimately bolster the impact of UK grant making."

How much does government give to charity?

The government data covers over £100bn in government grants, but just a fraction of this goes to the charity sector. 

The spreadsheet for grants made by DfT and MoJ includes a column for charity number, theoretically making it possible to identify exactly how many charities have received grants from government, and how much the sector has received. However, a number of entries are missing data for this field.  

Gavin Freeguard, head of data and transparency at the Institute for Government said: “This release is a great example of how open data can make government more effective and more accountable, with both the government and the public able to better understand and scrutinise what departments are spending their money on.

“But to make it truly useable and useful, government needs to include all the relevant data, such as company and charity numbers of all grant recipients.”

The wider register covers a broader range of grants schemes. Like the other data set, not all departments have formatted data in a way that makes it easy to tell how much the charity sector has received. 


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