Every year, the Salford Star understands, the Salford City Mayor has a budget of £1million to spend on whatever turns his whim. It's called the 'Discretionary Fund' and few people in Salford know of its existence.
Basically, the Star believes, the Mayor can hand money out to any project in the city, which raises major concerns about accountability as it appears that the funds don't have to be approved by any councillors or council committees.
The spend for this financial year is £1.073million, according to a response from a Salford Star Freedom of Information request. To his credit, the Mayor has funnelled the funds into seven projects, all - bar one - connected to schemes to help alleviate the city's growing poverty...
£250,000 taken from the Children's budget has been spent on youth workers and youth service support.
£150,000 has been spent on four full time children's social workers
£33,000 has been handed to the Salford Foundation for one full time officer, working on fuel poverty
£37,000 has been given to Salford Credit Union
£53,000 has gone into welfare rights and debt advice 'for residents impacted on by welfare reform changes', including one full time and one part time officer
£250,000 has been ploughed into the Salford discretionary support scheme for the 'Provision of immediate emergency support to residents', including funding for one full time admin officer
£300,000 has gone to pay for 13 street cleaning 'operatives' to clean A roads.
While all these projects are commendable, the £1million 'discretionary fund' raises questions about potential abuse and lack of accountability.
The Salford Star has now put in a further Freedom of Information request to get hold of spending over the full six years of the mayoral system...