The FCA spent more than £27,000 on plants and £133,000 on catering across its London and Edinburgh offices in the 12 months ended 31 March 2016.
According to a Freedom of Information Act request, the regulator did not purchase any plants but paid £23,114 to a contracted supplier that provides and maintains plants in its Canary Wharf office in London.
It paid £4,515 to the contractor that manages plants at its office in Edinburgh.
On catering, the FCA spent £133,024 for external meetings held at Canary Wharf in the 12 months to 31 March 2016. That figure includes catering in the conference suite, the chairman’s office and boardroom. According to the FOI it covers water, tea and coffee, lunches, breakfasts, dinners and canapés.
It did not spend any money on catering at its Edinburgh office with external guests offered the tea and coffee that is also available to employees.
The FOI response says: “The FCA holds several thousand meetings a year. In order for the FCA to fulfil its role as a financial regulator it needs to hold regular meetings with firms, consumer groups and overseas regulators and some form of catering is supplied at those meetings.”
The regulator said it did not purchase or loan any artwork for its two offices.
Libertatem director general Garry Heath was not surprised by the figures: “We looked at these sort of costs before and they are always pretty exotic.”
He adds: “It is a big organisation. The point is that no one will stop them doing it because there is no control over their spending. Cost of regulation goes up around year-on-year by about 10 per cent compound and it will continue to do so because there is no downward pressure on their fees.”