Are these the most generous mileage allowances in the public sector?

HM Revenue and Customs set an approved mileage rate of 40p per mile for using your own car on work. That makes for a good yardstick to judge mileage allowances against and various parts of the public sector I’ve come across pay either this figure or a bit more or less.

But I’ve never come across anything quite like Reading Council:

About 400 council staff get a whopping £2.10 for every mile they travel by car.

Read the rest of the story at Get Reading.

And a challenge for our readers: anyone able to beat £2.10 per mile?

UPDATE: If you follow the comments to this story on the Get Reading site, you’ll see that the £2.10 figure was given in council papers and has also been used by a councillor. However, several people have said that many people receive significantly less than this.

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  • Malcolm Todd 15th Jul '09 - 9:58am

    Mark – did you read the rest of the story yourself?

    It’s quite obvious, especially if you have a look through the (mostly surprisingly reasonable) comment trail, that this “£2.10 per mile” is journalistic misrepresentation of the usual kind, possibly at the behest of Council leadership seeking to justify an attack on essential user allowances.

    The only way to make sense of the figures is to assume that there are some people receiving essential user allowances who only do (or at least, only bother to claim for) a few hundred miles of business mileage a year, which produces the alleged £2.10 per mile. This is (as far as I can see) being used as an excuse for trying to remove the essential user allowance from all employees.

    Of course, it feeds nicely into the hysteria about supposed feather-bedding of public sector workers; please let’s not contribute to that hysteria by repeating misrepresentations until they achieve the status of internet ‘fact’.

  • Lazy council slackers sucking at the teat of the hard pressed taxpayer.

  • Malcolm Todd 15th Jul '09 - 1:13pm

    See what you’ve done?

  • Warren Swaine 15th Jul '09 - 5:56pm

    Since I’m on the Reading Borough Council Personnel Committee, maybe I ought to publish the real rates.

    1200-1450cc £1170 lump sum; first 8500 miles 46.4p; after 14.2p.

    For some perspective, I get £6880 lump sum and 18.9p per mile in the private sector.

  • So how much would the Lib Dems charge everyone for using trunk roads and motorways?

  • Malcolm Todd 15th Jul '09 - 9:40pm

    I didn’t say that the excess of a few was justified, only that the story doesn’t support the presentation given to it by the Reading Post, or by you.

    Even if you’re willing to stand by presenting the story as if £2.10 per mile was the standard rate for Reading Council workers, so by implication tarring all staff with the brush of accusation(pretty much the Telegraph approach to MPs’ expenses, as it happens), the basic headline that you quote – “About 400 council staff get a whopping £2.10 for every mile they travel by car” – isn’t borne out by the story, which includes the following rather bizarre statement:

    “Of the 422 essential car users at the council, the average claim is in fact £1.05 per mile with only half claiming an average £2.10 per mile, made up of a mileage rate and a lump sum.”

    I don’t know what that means exactly (half of them are claiming £2.10 per mile on average and the other half nothing at all? but then they’re not essential users at all) – but it certainly doesn’t mean that there are 400 staff claiming or getting the exorbitant rate claimed.

    Having seen Warren Swaine’s post, do you still stand by your presentation of this story?

  • I have no link to Reading council but I totally agree this is a misrepresentation.

    The £2.10 figure comes from adding the car user allowance to the per mile amount and dividing by the number of miles. The reason staff receive to much is because they don’t do many miles.

    You might have an argument that if staff do so few miles why are they classed as essential car users but ultimately the idea that Reading Council staff are coining in expenses by getting £2.10 for every mile is false. In fact the more miles they do the lower average rate they get.

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