Ratepayers foot £760k bill for council mileage


Council staff paid mileage allowances of over £760,000 in the last two years,

FERMANAGH and Omagh District Council has paid its staff mileage allowances of over £760,000 in the last two years, new figures have revealed this week. 
Research by public spending pressure group, the TaxPayers’ Alliance shows that the local authority is among at least nine councils paying a higher mileage rate to staff than that recommended by the UK Government. 
Council employees who use their own vehicles for business journeys are often reimbursed with mileage allowance payments by their employers to cover the cost of using the vehicle. Five years ago HM Revenue and Customs set an approved amount for cars and vans of 45p for first 10,000 miles. At that time the Department for Communities and Local Government also advised councils to stop paying above HMRC’s approved rate.
Despite this cap, some councils in the North are still paying employees a casual rate of up to 65p per mile – 20p per mile or 45% above the recommended rate – for vehicles above 1200cc.
Fermanagh and Omagh has been listed among nine councils in the North which spent a combined total of £3.31m on mileage expenses in 2015-16. This total mileage figure leapt to £3.49m in 2016-17.
In total, nine local authorities spent over £6.81m on mileage expenses for staff over two years – no figures were disclosed from Causeway Coast and Glens or Mid and East Antrim Borough Councils. 
FODC spent £363,835 on mileage in 2015-17 but this figure rose by £35,781 a year later to £399,616 – a total of £763,451 over a two year period. 
In response, a council spokesman told the Herald: “Employees of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council are entitled to receive reimbursement for the cost of travel necessarily incurred in the performance of their duties for the Council, in line with the Council’s Travel and Subsistence Policy. The mileage rates are the rates set by the National Joint Council for Local Government Services. Mileage costs in each year will be determined by the delivery of the Council’s corporate plans and priorities and departmental service delivery plans and will necessarily vary from one year to the next.”

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