Survey reveals councils pay out higher mileage rates than recommended

NEWTOWNABBEY council workers are being paid more for their mileage than the rate recommended by government, it has been revealed.

A study by the Taxpayers’ Alliance found all 26 Northern Ireland councils were paying workers 65 pence a mile, compared to the 40p standard rate approved by HM Revenue and Customs.

The study showed that in the years 2008/09 and 2009/10 Newtownabbey Borough Council paid those staff who used their cars for business purposes a total of £244,042.

Belfast City Council paid £981,028 - the highest amount over the same two years in Northern Ireland, while Carrickfergus paid the lowest, £130,969.

Newtownabbey was the 16th placed council for its mileage claims out of all the 26 authorities.

Mileage claims in Northern Ireland councils were among the highest in the UK, where on average the rate was 56p in 2010 to 2011. Only 80 councils across the UK have adopted the HMRC rate of 40p.

Lancashire Council topped the table with mileage claims at just over £17 million for the two years.

A spokeswoman for Newtownabbey Borough Council said: “The car allowance rates paid by Newtownabbey Borough Council are in accordance with agreements reached by the National Joint Council for Local Government Services.

“These rates vary according to the car (engine size), and the status of car users - for example casual or essential users.

“These vary from 13.7p per mile to 65p per mile. Staff are required to travel to visit customers for Building Control or Environmental Health and in association with organising and attending events involving the council.”