Rather surprisingly there’s something to congratulate Stoke-On-Trent Council on this week as they attempt to claw back £790,000 of taxpayers’ money per year by doing away with one of their favoured perks (The Sentinel).
Until now, due to their lump sum payment, essential car users at the authority have been able to claim as much as £1.06 per mile as an allowance, with casual car users making a decent 56p per mile to boot, meaning the council paid out no less than 1.9million in mileage claims in just 12 months for 3.1 million miles.
As many people will be aware, this sort of payment is substantially higher than the HMRC recommended 40p per mile, an amount that car users often find pretty lucrative itself - but finance chiefs at the council have warned that the costly system in place is "being used as a perk by council managers to recruit and retain key staff”.
Expenses being used as a bonus to top up earnings? Whoever heard of that…??
Cutting out this little practice is such a quick, easy way of nipping profligate in the bud and saving the authority a fairly decent amount of money on an annual basis! So when do these revisions begin you might ask? Well that’s completely up in the air at the moment as plans to implement these cutbacks in the New Year have been halted by the chief executive to allow time to negotiate with the unions who presumably drive tanks to work as they claim the 40p rate wouldn’t cover running costs…
According to the branch secretary, a 40p rate would involve subsidising the council 20p – so we might assume they want a 60p rate? So essentially at the sound of a decrease they’ve called for an increase, and implied that they’ve been subsidising the council 4p per mile all along (though without complaining and presumably out of the goodness of their hearts…). It really does make you wonder how most other councils and businesses survive on the 40p rate…
It all smacks of “we’re happy with our cushy little number, leave us be”, which doesn’t show much regard for taxpayers.
Let’s hope Stoke are successful in pushing this through. If they do they’ll have come along way since Christmas 2007 when they were unapologetically pouring money down the drain. It’s great to see a council that’s been fraught with difficulties making some concise moves to tighten their belts so here's hoping this union’s crackpot calculator fails to stop progress.