() View gallery
COUNCILS have wasted a total of £700,000 in the last two years by reimbursing staff for mileage expenses at more than the recommended rate.
HMRC recommends journeys be paid at 45p per mile but Brighton and Hove City Council pays 52.2p and several councils including Hastings, Lewes, Worthing and Arun, pay 44 per cent more than recommended at 65p per mile.
In Brighton the difference, across more than two million miles travelled in the last two financial years, adds up to £157,568.
The city is trying to find £21 million cuts in its current budget and council tax increased by the maximum 4.99 per cent this year, costing each resident of a Band D home an extra £70 per year.
East and Sussex County Council, and Mid Sussex District Council, pay less than the HMRC recommendation.
East Sussex pays just 25p, meaning over the last two years it has saved its taxpayers £3.6 million, compared with what they would have had to pay for a 45p per mile scheme.
John O’Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance – which published the data yesterday morning – said: “Driving is extremely expensive in Britain thanks to sky-high rates of fuel duty and vehicle excise duty, but there’s no excuse for councils to pay more than HMRC’s approved rate for mileage.
“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.
“Councils must continue to root out wasteful spending like this so that they can deliver tax cuts for hard-pressed residents.”
Cost-cutting guidance issued by the Department for Communities and Local Government in December 2012 stated: “The HMRC approved mileage allowance payment is currently 45p per mile.
“Some council employees are on terms and conditions where they can able to claim up to 25p per mile more than the prevailing HMRC rate.
“Councils could cut the mileage rates back to HMRC levels.”
A Brighton and Hove City Council spokesman said: “The Taxpayers Alliance figures do not compare like with like.
“We have two rates so some of ours are closer to the HMRC rate.
“We do not at this stage have a figure for payments in each category.
“Unfortunately we also appear to have answered a question the TA did not ask – they asked for vehicles over 1200cc and we do not have such a payment category.
“The figures from the TA are unreliable for Brighton and Hove City Council.”
Source: The Argus