Ratepayers fork out £600k for council workers’ mileage allowance

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Ratepayers in the Armagh Banbridge and Craigavon Council area have forked out more than £600k on mileage allowances, it has been revealed.

According to a report by the TaxPayers’ Alliance, staff were allocated 65 pence a mile and totted up a whopping £600,723 over the tax year 2016/2017.

The tax year before the mileage bill for the local council was £558,297.

ABC Council is paying around twice that of Belfast City Council in mileage allowance, it was revealed.

The public spending pressure group accused councils across Northern Ireland of wasting millions of pounds of taxpayers money.

ABC Council was one of nine NI councils paying over the government recommended mileage rate to staff.

The mileage rate approved by HM Revenue and Customs for cars and vans owned by employees and used for business journey is 45p per mile for the first 10k miles.

TaxPayers’ Alliance chief executive John O’Connell said that while high fuel prices and vehicle excise duty made driving “extremely expensive”, there was “no excuse for councils to pay more than HMRC’s approved rate for mileage”.

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

A spokesperson for Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council said: “The car allowance rate for all councils is agreed by the National Joint Committee (NJC) for Local Government Services which was last reviewed in April 2010.

“As the second largest council in Northern Ireland, Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council is made up of three former councils, which has a large rural geographical area with local services delivered across the borough”.