Councils paying staff too much mileage, says campaign group

31 Oct 17

More than a third of councils are paying their staff more mileage than they should, according to the campaign group the Taxpayers’ Alliance.

The organisation, through freedom of information requests to just under 400 councils in England, Wales and Scotland, found 54% (215) paid mileage above the HMRC 2016/17 approved rate of 45p per mile.

Although, the group noted, this was down from the 41% paying above the recommended rate in 2015/16.

The average council rate was 48.92 pence per mile in 2016/17, the research found, and the local authorities paid a total of £223m in mileage in the financial year.

Again, the Taxpayers’ Alliance noted this was less than the £231m in 2015/16, in the figures released last week.

Councils have been reported in local newspapers as hitting back against the report, such as in East Lancashire, where they said they paid nationally agreed rates and the TPA figures did not take into account differing rates for different vehicles and lower payments for staff doing high mileage.

Hastings Council – one of the 173 councils named as giving staff mileage allowance payments of 65p per mile – also said the TPA research “doesn’t reflect the full situation”, a local newspaper reported.  

John O'Connell, chief executive of the TPA, said: “Driving is extremely expensive in Britain thanks to sky-high rates of fuel duty and vehicle excise duty, but there's no excuse for councils to pay more than HMRC's approved rate for mileage”.

In 2012 the Department for Communities and Local Government issued guidance on cutting costs, which advised local authorities to bring their rates inline with the levels set by HMRC. 

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