Kent residents were aghast last week at news that the County Council had hatched a plan to increase the amount councillors could claim for mileage by 50 per cent.
The proposal was to increase the rate from the HMRC-recommended level of 45p to 66p per mile for journeys made by car while on council business.
As Jonathan Isaby, our Political Director, responded:
"Kent councillors already get one of the highest basic allowances of any English county council, so many residents will be surprised to discover that they can claim anything for mileage, let alone put in a collective invoice for over £130,000 a year. Local taxpayers will be appalled at the proposal to hike the mileage allowance above the HMRC-recommended level, especially at a time when budgets are tight and civic leaders are having to find savings. Councillors should be looking to reduce this exorbitant bill, not increasing it yet further."
So it’s very good news to learn that the proposed increase has now sensibly been dropped, a move which the TaxPayers’ Alliance warmly welcomes.
Councillors need to remember that their role is not a full-time job and that they already receive an allowance to recognise their time commitment and cover the additional costs which arise through their duties. Councillors getting an additional travel allowance on top of this should think themselves lucky and, if anything, be seeking to reduce that bill, not increase it.
Let’s hope common sense continues to prevail at Kent County Council, although we will be quick to make our feelings known if this issue is revisited in the future.