The Policy and Resources Scrutiny Committee of Carmarthenshire County Council has been looking into the council's spend on "third sector" organisations, or in plainer language charities and various voluntary groups. The figures are stunning, and the conclusions even more worrying.
In 2013/14 the total spent was £19.2 million. This figure fell to £16.85 million the following year, and further reductions have been identified as a result of the investigation. What triggered the review was "anecdotal information" that there was a "lack of co-ordination of spend and strategic focus". In other words, huge amounts of money have been being splashed around by different departments with duplication and nobody in overall charge.
The result was that in 2013/14 over 1,000 organisations and individuals received funding ranging from just £100 to over £1 million. The way the council awards contracts varies across departments, and in some cases contracts have just been rolled over without anything much in the way of scrutiny.
The report, which is unusually frank for Carmarthenshire County Council, also notes that there are discrepancies between what departmental managers say they are spending and what the actual financial data shows, as well as what council managers say they are spending and what the recipients themselves "believe" they are receiving.
There is no doubt that this has been going on for years in a body which likes to claim that it is one of the best run councils in Wales.