Communities secretary Eric Pickles is to force councils to publish more information on parking charges and the frequency of waste collections.
Under changes to the Transparency Code due to take effect in November, councils will be obliged to publish details of waste and other contracts, as well as details of their land and building assets. They will also have to publish more details of what the Department for Communities & Local Government referred to as “subsidies given to trade unions including so-called ‘facility time’”.
Local government minister Kris Hopkins said in a statement: “Greater power for local government must go hand in hand with greater local transparency and local accountability. Therefore it is only right we give council taxpayers the data they deserve to play a bigger role in local democracy.
“This new wave of town hall transparency will empower armchair auditors right across the land to expose municipal waste and ensure councils are making the sensible savings necessary to freeze council tax and protect frontline services.
“For instance, opening up parking profits to the eyes of local democracy will protect residents from the risk of being treated as cash cows by trigger-happy town hall traffic wardens and expose councils using parking policies in an unlawful way.”
Mr Pickles first came up with the concept of armchair auditors holding councils to account in 2010.
But doubts soon surfaced as to whether any significant proportion of the public had the time, skills or interest to comb through council records.
Last month the Public Accounts Committee said the DCLG lacked information on how grants were spent.
Committee chair Margaret Hodge (Lab) said there was “no convincing evidence that ‘armchair auditor’ members of the public are being empowered to hold local authorities to account”.