Spending on the Bank of England’s summer party crept closer to £100,000 this year despite Threadneedle Street promising MPs it would put the expensive event under review.
Figures released by the central bank showed that party planners racked up a bill of £96,188 on the event, which hosted nearly 2,500 staff and their families at the Bank’s sports club in Roehampton, south-west London in July.
Costs for the annual party – known as Governors’ Day – included more than £52,200 on food and soft drinks and nearly £30,000 on family entertainment, which in 2018 involved a treasure hunt, bake-off competition, fun run and bouncy castle. That was on top of nearly £2,000 for equipment and £12,000 for “other” undisclosed expenses.
The total is slightly higher than the £95,673 spent on Governors’ Day in 2018, and while the increase is marginal – about £515 – it will raise questions over whether the bank is serious about reviewing its costs.
In May, members of the Bank’s board, known at as the Court of Directors, were grilled by MPs over expenses including the summer party bill. Dorothy Thompson, a Court director and former Drax chief executive, defended the party but said the Bank was looking to rein in spending.
“This is an annual event. The cost is £40 per head. There is no alcohol funded. And it is the one large offsite for the institution. But it must be said, as we are stressing, more and more, cost competitiveness and cost control, it is one of the things that is under review,” she said.
The Bank has already planned to shut its 32-acre sports ground to staff and lease it to a commercial operator in a bid to cut costs. It means the 2019 Governors’ Day was likely the last to be held at the plush sports centre.
The Bank’s incoming governor, Andrew Bailey, who takes the reins from Mark Carney in March, will have to secure a new venue assuming the event continues into 2020.
The Bank also cut meal and hotel allowances for staff last year after coming under fire for a £390,000 travel bill racked up by two of its economics advisers over two-and-a-half years.
Anil Kashyap, who serves as an external member of the Bank’s financial policy committee, spent £11,000 on a flight from Chicago to London. His colleague Donald Kohn was found to have separately submitted expenses for an £8,000 flight from Washington to London and £469 on taxis for one meeting.
A statement released by the Bank alongside the 2019 Governors’ Day figures said: “Governors’ Day is a long-held tradition that is open to all employees including their families, with the aim of recognising their hard work and dedication.”
The Bank of England was contacted for further comment.