Local authority workers in Kirklees are being asked to divulge details of how they spend their money and what proportion of their wages is spent locally.
In a message on the authority’s internal intranet headlined “Help us find out where our money goes” the council says it is “exploring the impact the council’s spending power brings for the local economy.”
It contains a link to a survey that employees are asked to complete, providing estimates as to what they spend each month (individually) on a selection of activities and the proportion of this that is spent in the local area.
Questions cover how much is spent per month on mortgage/rent and council tax, whether workers own their own homes, which bank or building society provides their mortgage, how much they spend on shopping, socialising, public transport, gym/childcare, and their annual salary.
Workers who take part in the survey have the chance to win a £50 restaurant voucher. Local councillors have also received the link.
The survey forms part of what is being described as “a local wealth building project” between the council and the Manchester-based think tank Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES).
Other organisations described as “local anchors” - the University of Huddersfield, Kirklees College and big businesses - will also be encouraged to work with the council “to build local wealth and improve well-being”.
Kirklees Council Leader Clr Shabir Pandor said he felt “very positive” that the authority was embarking on the project, which he called “progressive”.
He said: “It will support the growth of local business, community groups and the voluntary sector across the district, as well as helping to improve their well-being of our residents and tackle deprivation, where it exists, in our communities.”
Green group leader Clr Andrew Cooper said he filled out the survey, which took less than two minutes “so a limited impact on officer time as far as I can see.”
But with around 7,000 staff on the council’s books and 4,000 with access to the intranet the time expended if every worker took part would be in excess of 130 hours.
Information supplied by workers on their spending will be analysed by the CLES.
The council’s website says: “This analysis will set a baseline so we can work together with CLES to understand the impact of council employees on the local economy.
“It links to the wider work CLES are undertaking on supply chain analysis of the top 300 suppliers (by value) the council works with to understand what our local spend is and how we can improve it.”
It adds that data “will be stored securely in line with GDPR. No individuals will be identified in the report.”
Conservative group leader David Hall said the council had initiated several procurement studies in recent years.
“I don’t know why they’re bringing in these people and paying them what I imagine is a lot of money to come up with common sense,” he said. “It should be part and parcel of running an efficiency unit.”
A Kirklees Council source used the example of Preston to underline the council’s partnership with CLES. Preston saw an increase of £70m in local spend among anchors and an increase of £200m in Lancashire spend over the four years 2012/13-16/17, with CLES’s assistance.
There is no cost to the survey on the intranet.