UK’s local authorities spent £6,593,523 on award ceremonies

UK’s local authorities spent £6,593,523 on award ceremonies

Embargoed: 00:01 Thursday 21st February 2019


An investigation by the TaxPayers' Alliance into council spending has revealed that local authorities in the UK have spent over £6 million on award ceremonies since 2015, with the average cost to the taxpayer per council being £18,064. As many local authorities across Britain further limit service provision, often taxpayers are paying more for less, whilst many local authorities are continuing to spend significant amounts of money on a range of award ceremonies.

Key findings

  • In 2015-16, 2016-17 and 2017-18 the UK’s local authorities spent £6,593,523 on award ceremonies, with the average cost to the taxpayer per council being £18,064.

  • Derbyshire County Council spent the most at £218,483 on award ceremonies within the time period. This was almost 12 times the national average and £14,658 more than all the Welsh councils combined.

  • 65 councils, including South Derbyshire District Council, spent nothing on award ceremonies. In many cases this was due to successful sponsorship arrangements.

  • Northern Irish councils spent over 3 times more than the average local authority on award ceremonies.

  • Welsh councils spent 44 per cent less than the UK average on award ceremonies.

  • Scottish award ceremony spending was almost 40 per cent higher than the average spent by English councils.

  • Average awards ceremony spending in London was well over double the English average.


Click here to read the full report

Click here to view data on every council in the UK

Dishonourable mentions

  • Burnley Business Awards. This bi-annual awards ceremony is organised by Burnley council and in 2017 was held at the historic Towneley Hall. The awards 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.

  • Harrogate Shining Lights Award. An award celebrating businesses in Harrogate that have been trading for under three years. The 2015 award included a £3,000 cash prize to the winning business.

  • Made in Bury Business Awards. Whilst many councils organise business awards and count on private businesses for sponsorship, in Bury the local council has done the opposite, spending £16,000 per year to be a headline sponsor at these awards.

Honourable mentions

  • Aberdeen Star Awards. Every year Aberdeen City Council host the Star awards costing on average £19,487 per year. This cost is covered through supplier rebates, discounts and contributions of goods and services.

  • Kent Design and Development Awards. Co-ordinated by Kent County Council this award had a budget of £15,000 in 2016 and £22,000 in 2018. Both years private sector sponsorship fully covered the event costs.

  • Ealing Foster Carer Awards Ceremony. By gaining full sponsorship for this annual award, Ealing council has saved  taxpayers £41,058 over the time period.

  • Lambeth Community Pride Awards 2016. The budget of £20,038 for this award was fully met by sponsorship.

Commenting on the report, John O'Connell, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance said: 

"Families in the UK who work hard to pay for their council tax will be disappointed to discover that so many local authorities are still spending money on unnecessary extravagances. There's nothing wrong with congratulating staff who work hard or celebrating local businesses, but councils should prioritise the essential services that they are paid to provide. It's encouraging to see that so many councils were successful in negotiating sponsorship arrangements to pay for some ceremonies, and all local authorities in the UK should seek to do the same."

TPA spokesmen are available for live and pre-recorded broadcast interviews via 07795 084 113 (no texts)

Media contact:

Chloe Westley

Campaign Manager, TaxPayers' Alliance
[email protected]
24-hour media hotline: 07795 084 113 (no texts)

Notes to editors:

  1. Founded in 2004 by Matthew Elliott and Andrew Allum, and now with 80,000 supporters, the TaxPayers’ Alliance (TPA) fights to reform taxes, reduce spending and protect taxpayers. Find out more about the TaxPayers' Alliance at
  2. TaxPayers' Alliance's advisory council.
This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience.  More info. Okay