Thousands paid for missing council miles

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Council employees have claimed tens of thousands of pounds in expenses for car journeys they are not making.

The revelation comes from a damning in-house reporting into Scarborough Council’s expenses scheme and shows a worrying lack of scrutiny of what staff are claiming,

The report states that members of staff who qualify as ‘essential drivers’ can get a lump sum payout of £963 per annum, on the proviso that they are expected to complete more than 3,000 business miles as part of their job.

Of the 98 who claimed the allowance in the last financial year just 17 employees, 17.35 per cent, met the criteria.

This means that £78,003 was paid out to people who did not qualify for the payment.

Further to this 61 essential users failed to do more than 1,000 miles and one person did just 50 miles, meaning they were paid £19.26 per mile driven.

In contrast one user completed 11,933 miles in the year and got the same lump sum, meaning they received just over 0.08p per mile.

A report that went before the council’s Resources Scrutiny Committee stated that: “The cost of mileage during 2013/14 amounted to approximately £61,600.

“Therefore the overall direct cost of the 98 employees undertaking business mileage on behalf of the Council amounted to £155,974.”

The council is now looking at ways to tighten up the system but that has not stopped the Taxpayers Alliance from heavily criticising the authority.

Andy Silvester from the watchdog told The Scarborough News: “This is a total waste of taxpayers’ money. 
“The Council has simply handed out cash to employees with no sense of accountability, and as a result local residents’ are now footing the bill.

“This ridiculous practice must stop immediately before it costs taxpayers even more of the hard-earned money.”

UKIP’s borough councillor Sam Cross also said it was time for the allowance to go.

He said: “It’s sad that this allowance is still here when it was discussed for abolition in 2006

“This allowance meant an individual who did less than one mile per week was paid almost £20 per mile for the year.

“People are struggling and council, well paid council officers, are receiving this as a perk, on top of the well paid jobs and Rolls Royce pension.

“When 98 people get the payment and 17 meet the criteria then surely something is wrong? People who ,live locally are travelling hundreds of miles a week to work without getting a penny for it.

“Why should council staff be different?

“Other councils in the ares do no do this.

“The recipients should have the decency to pay it back and do that right thing.”

Roger Kaye, spokesman for Scarborough Borough Council, said:“Essential car users are those employees whose duties are of such a nature that it is essential for them to have a car at their disposal whenever required by the council.

“Therefore all 98 essential users did get paid the lump sum regardless of the mileage undertaken.

“The purpose of the report however is to establish whether the current arrangements continue to be fit for purpose and to identify through the review, whether any financial budget savings and/or operational efficiencies could be achieved by making changes to the current scheme.”