Councils could ditch a raft of “non-frontline workers”, such as political advisers, without putting frontline services at risk, according to a lobby group.
The TaxPayers’ Alliance (TPA) has catalogued how many climate change officers, political advisors, diversity officers and European officers are working at each council and what the bill is for employing them.
Key findings in the report include:
- Councils spent £41m employing political advisors, European officers, diversity officers and climate change officers in 2009-10.
- Some 141 full time equivalent council employees worked as political advisors at a cost of nearly £5m in 2009-10.
- Nearly 183 full time equivalent council employees worked as European officers at a cost of £6m in 2009-10.
- 543 full time equivalent council employees worked as diversity officers at a cost of nearly £20m in 2009-10.
TPA policy analyst, Chris Daniel, said: “These jobs are all the result of councils going too far in following the edicts of central government, instead of focussing on local priorities; or chasing grants that are, in the end, more than paid for by British taxpayers.”
Commenting on the report, local government minister, Grant Shapps (Con), said that in “far too many cases there’s a duplication of roles in councils with the taxpayer left to pick up the bill”.
He added: “Councils need to be able to justify every penny to the electorate, yet some local authorities seem to have forgotten whose money it is.”
The Local Government Association (LGA) accused the TPA of producing “slapdash research” which failed to acknowledge the huge savings that these members of staff bring to the work of their councils.
LGA chief executive, John Ransford, left, said: “Anything more than a cursory analysis of these figures will show that what the Taxpayers’ Alliance call unnecessary jobs actually help to ensure that hardworking people get value for money for the taxes they pay.
“More than 10bn Euros is available to British councils from European funding streams, so European officers working at full tilt to make sure their residents get a fair share of that more than pays for itself.
“What’s more, not only is there an environmental imperative to cut back on the amount of carbon we release into the atmosphere, there is an urgent financial one too.”