Last night, Milton Keynes council voted to hike bills by 1.95 per cent, just under the 2 per cent limit at which they would have had to call a referendum to get the rate rise through.
This is a heavy burden to add to already high costs for taxpayers, who will doubtless hope that every penny of their money is going into providing local services. However this would appear not to be the case as £15,000 is allocated to go to trade unions. The bills of 13 average band D homes are taken up by paying money to trade unions.
In our research into the amount of office space in publicly owned buildings given to trade unions, we found that Milton Keynes provided representatives with 282 sq ft of space. It is unclear whether this is included in the £15,000 or is in addition to it.
Eric Pickles, Minister for Communities and Local Government, has called for ‘trade union facility time’ – the practice of council workers spending a proportion of their time working for the trade union rather than the public – to be “significantly scaled back”. Limiting payments to trade unions and being transparent about what is paid are given as examples of “sensible savings in local government” by the department.
Perhaps Milton Keynes council should be more thorough in the search for savings before calling on taxpayers to foot the bill.