Council Makes Changes To Expenses Recommendations Following Staff Feedback

town hall windows signThe Council is to retain the ‘Friends and Family’ reimbursement of expenses for staff travelling on the mainland.

This is where workers are given an allowance of £23 to stay overnight with relatives rather than paying up to £80 for a hotel or guesthouse.

A review of the expenses policy in November had recommended dropping this payment, because of tax implications and difficulty verifying that the expense had been incurred.

But councillors argued that it could save money in the long run and wanted to await the outcome of a staff consultation before making a final decision.

At last week’s Policy and Resources Committee meeting, Head of Finance Iain McCulloch said fifteen staff had provided comments and eight of them said removing the Friends and Family rate would force them to book higher-priced accommodation.

One said it enabled them to buy a bottle of wine or bunch of flowers to say ‘thank you’ while another felt it would impact on their personal safety while travelling.

Another employee said removing it would “annoy an already grumpy staff.”

Iain said the feedback had been noted and they were now recommending keeping this in place, albeit with a lower reimbursement rate of £15.

The new rates set for accommodation and meals were broadly supported by staff, although one questioned how £13 would buy a meal in London, somewhere other than “McDonalds, Pizza Hut or the West Cornwall Pasty Shop.”

There was some confusion about who can use the new rates.

Iain said it was just for Council officers and not elected members. A review of their expense rates has to go through a different process, which could take up to three months.

Council Chairman Amanda Martin said members’ rates were generally less generous than those for officers and it would be nice to “tidy up those anomalies.”