We shouldn’t pay KCC ex­penses bill

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Waste Collection Latest -

As one of the largest lo­cal au­thor­i­ties in the coun­try, Kent County Coun­cil spends a lot of tax­pay­ers’ money to pro­vide ser­vices to res­i­dents. At a time when ev­ery penny counts be­cause of the con­tin­u­ing pub­lic sec­tor spend­ing squeeze, it has a re­spon­si­bil­ity to coun­cil tax­pay­ers to en­sure pub­lic money is spent on the right things.

It is not an easy time for KCC. Only last week, it an­nounced it would need to cut spend­ing by a stag­ger­ing £240m from 2015 to cope with a short­fall in govern­ment grants. Which makes it all the more baf­fling that a week later, county coun­cil­lors are con­sid­er­ing hik­ing their travel ex­penses and want us to pick up the bill.

The tax­man has come knock­ing at County Hall and told it that its 84 elected mem­bers must pay tax on their jour­neys from home to County Hall as they are not strictly busi­ness trips. KCC’s re­sponse is to pro­pose bump­ing up coun­cil­lors’ mileage rates to com­pen­sate for the tax de­duc­tions.

Coun­cil­lors will no doubt ar­gue that they should not be out of pocket but that is a flawed ar­gu­ment. The fact is that they should have been pay­ing tax al­ready and have ef­fec­tively been get­ting away with not do­ing so.

Many coun­cil­lors work hard and are com­mit­ted to help­ing oth­ers. But this pro­posal smacks of help­ing them­selves. Worse, they want us to pick up the bill.

They should think again.

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