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Council taxpayers in east London pay third more above guidelines for staff to drive

PUBLISHED: 07:00 24 October 2017 | UPDATED: 09:36 24 October 2017

Taxpayers Alliance chief executive John O’Connell:

Taxpayers Alliance chief executive John O’Connell: "No excuse to pay above approved mileage rate." Picture: Town Hall Mike Brooke, inset Taxpayers' Alliance

Archant/Taxpayers' Alliance

Council taxpayers across east London are forking out for town hall staff car journeys at 65p for every mile — almost a third more than the government-recommended petrol allowance, it has emerged today.

Tower Hamlets paying 20p above national petrol allowance rate to its council staff. Picture: Mike BrookeTower Hamlets paying 20p above national petrol allowance rate to its council staff. Picture: Mike Brooke

Both Tower Hamlets and neighbouring Newham are paying their employees 20p above the rate laid down in 2012, the Taxpayers’ Alliance has found.

The petrol bill facing Tower Hamlets taxpayers in the past 12 months alone was £58,000, while Newham taxpayers forked out three times that, totalling £168,000.

It was even more in Barking and Dagenham, reaching almost £392,000, despite their mileage rate kept at the recommended 45p.

“There’s no excuse for councils to pay more than the approved rate for mileage,” TaxPayers’ Alliance chief executive John O’Connell insisted.

“Driving is extremely expensive in Britain because of sky-high fuel and vehicle excise duty.

“It’s simply not credible for local authorities to plead poverty and raise council tax while paying over the odds to its staff for basic expenses, especially when the government has been telling them to rein in these payments for the past five years.”

Town halls are being urged by the Taxpayers’ Alliance to root out “wasteful spending” and to bring in cuts to council tax bills for hard-pressed families.

Many local authorities reduced their mileage payments to match the approved rate to save money without affecting frontline services, after the Alliance first exposed “this needless waste of taxpayers’ money” in 2011.

But Tower Hamlets, which was hit by £100m government cuts two years ago, and Newham are still paying 65p a mile, five years after the Department of Local Government advised town halls to stop paying above the rate. HM Revenue and Customs suggested 45p for employees using their own vehicles for business journeys.

Other local authorities in east London were keeping to the 45p rate, such as Barking and Dagenham, Waltham Forest and Redbridge. But Havering was paying 52p, costing its taxpayers £372,335 last year.

The national bill for Britain’s taxpayers was £223 million in mileage payments to council employees in the past year.

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