A Scottish NHS quango has spent more than £1 million on a fleet of luxury cars for its employees. National Procurement spent £971,000 on leased executive cars for staff deemed “regular users” since October 2008.
In response to a Freedom of Information request, National Procurement revealed that 40 employees, or one in eight of their total headcount, had used flashy, taxpayer-funded cars for work. This included £27,000 for a Mercedes, three S-Line Audi A3s, each costing £23,000, an Audi TT costing £28,300 and three Range Rover Evoques each costing £29,500. On top of the leasing costs, taxpayers are also liable for much of the costs of insurance, fuel and vehicle excise duty.
We have already revealed that mileage reimbursement rates in the public sector are way above the actual costs of fuel and reasonable wear and tear. Quangos like National Procurement have an obligation to taxpayers to only reimburse staff for essential travel and where cheaper alternatives such as video conferencing are not suitable. To rub even more salt in taxpayers’ wounds, one employee even revealed that there is a company pool car available and that often public transport is a viable alternative.
The costs have also been slammed by Jackie Baillie MSP, Labour’s Health spokesman in the Scottish Parliament, who said:
The NHS in Scotland is suffering from severe pressures and it seems that officials have no proper sense of financial priorities. Staff who are in genuine need of transport to do their jobs is one thing, but these are status symbols for managers whose jobs are predominantly desk-based.
It is very worrying that a quango whose sole responsibility is procurement for the NHS views this as a sensible use of taxpayers’ money. The NHS in Scotland need to work much harder to ensure taxpayers are getting value for money and the leasing of expensive cars shows more can be done.