I have asked the chief executive of the Central Office of Information to reply to the hon. Member.
Letter from Mark Lund, dated 14 September 2009:
As Chief Executive of the Central Office of Information (COI), I have been asked to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question on how much the COI has spent on (a) office parties and (b) staff bonuses in the last 12 months (291385).
(a) The Central Office of Information (COI) does not hold office parties funded by the organisation, other than those listed below.
An event in the summer is held to coincide with the publication of the Annual Report and Accounts to review the year’s activity and to acknowledge any outstanding contributions from staff during the year.
An all staff event is also held at Christmas. This event is seen as an efficient way for the organisation to acknowledge the festive season.
The cost of these events is in line with guidance issued by the HMRC. This guidance states that no more than £150 per person, per year should be spent on such events. In the last 12 months COI spent £42.82 per person.
(b) The COI do not pay a corporate bonus to its employees.
COI paid eligible staff a non-consolidated performance pay award for the 2008/9. This amounted to 5.36% of the regular monthly salary.
This recognised that COI achieved its Ministerial targets for 2008/9 and COI also secured record savings for our government and public sector clients.
Its payment, together with the achievement against the targets, is audited by the National Audit Office.