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Greenwich council's cuts to staff travel allowance under fire

PUBLISHED: 15:42 26 August 2010

A trade union secretary has blasted Greenwich council proposals to cut staff travel allowances claiming years of bad management will lead to genuine claims being ruled out.

Greenwich council, along with other local authorities, has been warned by Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles that their central government grants could be cut from anything between 25 and 40 per cent, in the autumn spending review due in October.

However, Greenwich council bosses have already planned a series of cuts and are currently consulting with UNITE representatives on proposals to slash thousands off their travel allowance.

UNITE secretary at Greenwich council Rachel Young said: “For a long time people have been receiving the allowances when they shouldn’t have. It has been paid to managers even though they have not been doing any mileage. Now these changes could mean that staff who need it, will be denied it.”

At the moment there are 1,030 staff who get the essential car user allowance but managers have proposed new criteria which would bring this number down to 786.

Twenty employees have cars under its lease scheme at an annual cost of £32,000. But the proposals state it should be closed for new applicants and the last leases should run out in three years. Car parking allowances are also set to be cut as well as the rate for the casual user allowance.

Councillors are due to vote on the proposals in September but a date has yet to be confirmed, before the new travel scheme is introduced for all staff on January 1.

A spokesperson from Greenwich council said: “The council is committed to maintaining front line services and has a strong track record of identifying efficiency savings, which has enabled us to freeze council tax in six of the last 12 years.

“As part of this, the council is currently consulting over proposals to reduce expenditure of staff travel costs.

“The council has already identified £6.5m of savings ahead of the Comprehensive Spending Review.

“This forms part of our planned £26.7m of efficiencies. However, detailed spending decisions will be made once the level of grant reduction has been confirmed by the Government in October.”

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