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Saturday, 22 September 2012


An ex RBK&C employee has written to the Dame highlighting the possible fraudulent claiming of car travel allowance. 
The Dame has great respect for Mr Holgate and hopes he will rectify this unsatisfactory state of affairs...

I worked for RBK&C for 20 years in a very humble capacity - I had no management responsibilities and never interacted with the public; but occasionally I had to attend meetings in far flung places. Generally these could easily be reached by train, but sometimes this was irksome.
I was aware that some council jobs carried a 'car user allowance' as part of the job specification, but I wondered if one-off casual use could be reimbursed. Finance confirmed that it could, if authorised by my Team Leader, and sent me a form.
Buried in the small print on page two I was required to confirm that I had insurance for using my car for work purposes, and at the end I had to sign that everything I had said was true.
Well, getting special temporary cover for non-private use was clearly a non-starter, so I enquired around of people I knew who had car user allowances (both as part of their job and casual). 'Oh, I've never bothered about that, just sign' was the general response.
Now I have a natural reluctance to sign I am telling the truth when I am not, so I became curious as to how the system was policed. I contacted the Finance officer who dealt with the claims and asked if they required proof that claimants had in fact the requisite insurance. 'No, we trust them;  if they want to take the chance of their insurance company not paying out if they have an accident it's their choice' was the reply.
I thought about this, discovered that the allowance was based on the AA estimate of how much it cost to run a car for work - which included an amount to cover the necessarily greater insurance required for non-domestic use.  I contacted Finance again and pointed out that a part of the allowance was to cover this extra cost, and if the recipient wasn't in fact paying it but saying he was, then it was fraud, not just taking a voluntary risk.

I never had a reply. Clearly the 'car allowance' system was so universally and deeply embedded as a perk, for both Officers and Councillors, that nobody was going to rock the boat. Valuing my job I gave up (and didn't claim the allowance).
Still, lying is lying; and taking money for something you claim to be doing but are not is not only lying but probably criminal.  This was some time ago, but I expect it is still going on.

1 comment:

  1. Poor management at Hornton Towers. Thank you Myers. In a well run organisation employees are required to prove that they have insurance and that the insurance gives an indemnity to the employer. The danger is the employee has an accident on the employer's business and the employer gets sued. That's what vicarious liabilty means. Myers has a law degree, should know better.


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