And the winner is...

by Chloe Westley, Campaign Manager

Awards season is upon us! Cue the flashing lights, teary acceptance speeches about smashing the patriarchy, selfies on the catwalk and bickering online over the best and worst dressed Hollywood stars. It’s the epitome of celebrity culture in the 21st century - glitzy, narcissistic, a bit self-righteous, but also rather entertaining.

But there are some award ceremonies which have sadly gone unnoticed, and not been given the appreciation that they deserve. Yes, famous actors and actresses deserve all the praise in the world, but what about the talented and inspirational local heroes working at councils across the country? What about their recognition and reward?!

Well, we’ve been looking into this for you. As movie stars get glammed up in their best attire to celebrate their achievements, so do the staff at your local council!

Who wore it better? Lady Gaga sports a Meat Dress, whilst at the Burnley Business Awards the local council paid ten entertainers to dress up as trees, shrubbery and wildlife!

Last week the TaxPayers’ Alliance released an explosive report on local council spending on award ceremonies, much to the dismay of council press officers across the country. Our report found that, since 2015, local authorities in the UK have spent over £6 million on award ceremonies, with the average cost to the taxpayers per council being £18,064.

It must be said that some of the councils we investigated had, impressively, negotiated private sponsorship for their award ceremonies. This is a win-win scenario, as the council gets their award ceremony without splashing taxpayers’ cash, and the local business(es) who sponsor the event get to promote their brand. A top prize then to councils like Kent, who were able to put on several years of award ceremonies without costing the taxpayer a dime.

Sadly, these examples were few and far between. The majority of councils in Britain have been putting on extravagant parties and leaving taxpayers to foot the bill. Derbyshire County Council spent the most, at £218,483 on award ceremonies, and average spending in London was well over double the English average.

Some of the ceremonies we investigated were just downright bizarre. The Burnley Business awards (organised and paid for by the council) included a champagne reception, live musical performers and bespoke trophies. In addition, ten entertainers (dressed in highly elaborate costumes as trees, shrubbery and wildlife) were hired for photographs with guests. This award ceremony cost an estimated £25,000 of taxpayers’ money. You can view photos of the awards here.

Why is this important? Here at the TPA, we do our best to provide you with information about how your hard earned cash is being spent by local and national government. Despite our ongoing campaigns, council tax has been increasing year on year, and for many families this is now the largest monthly bill in the household budget.

The reason we highlight wasteful spending like this is because if your local council spent less on awards ceremonies and other unnecessary ventures, then they would have more money for essential services like social care and bin collection. Better yet, if they spent your money responsibly, they wouldn’t have to force you to pay so much more in council tax each year. That would be a truly Oscar-winning performance.

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