Gloucestershire News

'Generous' mileage claims are 'costing local authorities millions'

Share Article

Written by: Willans LLP Solicitors | Posted 10 November 2017 7:24

'Generous' mileage claims are 'costing local authorities millions'

Millions of pounds is being wasted by local authorities ‘over paying’ their staff on mileage allowances, according to new research which has raised some questions for councils in Gloucestershire.

The TaxPayers Alliance (TPA) says councils should be following HMRC guidance and paying 45 per cent mile to staff for the first 10,000 miles and no more, but points out this is being widely ignored.

Its study has thrown up some interesting anomalies in Gloucestershire with Cotswold District Council paying 49.3 pence per mile, leaving it with a bill of £131,002 in 2016 to 2017, a rise from £124,982 on the previous year.

That is compared to the Forest of Dean, across the other side of the county, which pays 45 pence per mile and saw its annual bill fall to a relatively paltry £2,492 from £2,824.

In Tewkesbury the payment per mile is higher still, at 65 pence, and the local authority saw its bill rise from £58,781 to £59,049.

Had Tewkesbury chosen to pay 45p instead it would have saved £18,168 and if the Cotswolds had followed suit it would have kept hold of £11,426.

Gloucester City Council pays its staff 50 pence per mile, but saw its bill fall from £22,730 in 2015-2016 to £14,563 in 2016-2017. It would have saved £1,456 if the alliance had its way.

The county council adheres to the 45p limit. Its own bill £1,180,751 – down from 1,206,605 the previous year.

According to the TPA the situation is not acceptable. But as with many things, the bigger picture tells a more complicated story – one councils are working to simplify.

A spokesman for Cotswold District Council said: “Cotswold DC’s total expenditure on staff mileage is higher than neighbouring authorities because we are an employing authority for a range of shared services covering several councils and other organisations across several sites.

“Nevertheless, we have offset expenditure by making efficiency savings elsewhere as part of our shared services initiative, including sharing posts across authorities.

“We are also making much more use of agile and flexible working patterns, video conferencing facilities and other technological advances, to cut down on the need for staff to travel between sites.

“On 1 November the majority of staff from four local authorities, including Cotswold DC, transferred to Publica Ltd.

“The mileage rate for new employees joining Publica will be the HMRC rate of 45p per mile.

“However, existing staff moving to Publica under the terms of TUPE (Transfer of Undertaking – Protection of Employment) regulations will in the meantime remain on their current terms and conditions, including mileage rates.”

A spokesman for the Forest of Dean reminded us its staff had also now moved into Publica (as have Cheltenham Borough Council and West Oxfordshire District Councils) and the above comment applied to them too, as did the bit about video conferencing and other cost savings.

“The Forest of Dean District Council’s total expenditure on staff mileage is fairly frugal when compared to other authorities,” said the spokesman.

Jonathan Lund, corporate director at Gloucester City Council said: “Mileage rates are kept under regular review. To keep costs as low as possible we provide a small pool of environmentally efficient vehicles for staff which are both practical and cost effective.

“We are confident that this change will save more than twice the amount that could be saved from a five pence reduction in mileage rates and will be more environmentally sustainable for the future.”

Ray Theodoulou, cabinet member for finance and change at the county council said: “Gloucestershire County Council follows Government advice and pays the HMRC amount of 45p per mile, as the Taxpayers’ Alliance suggests. The majority of our mileage payments go to our staff helping to look after vulnerable adults, or children at risk.”

According to the Tax Payers Alliance the average council rate paid by local authorities was 48.92 pence in 2016-17 - 3.92 pence higher than the HMRC approved rate.

Bassetlaw paid the highest rate at 69 pence per mile, over 50 per cent more than the HMRC approved rate.

Share Article