Northern Ireland news

TaxPayers' Alliance hits out at £15m of government 'anti-eco waste'

The amount of money spent by government departments has been criticised
Mairead Holland

MORE than £15 million has been spent by the British government on "wasteful anti-eco practices", a report has claimed.

The TaxPayers' Alliance (TPA) levelled the criticism as it released its findings on spending by Whitehall departments.

The figures, obtained by Freedom of Information requests, reveal that since 2014 the total amount spent on taxis and summer heating was £15,383,904.

Of this, £14,590,284 was spent by 11 government departments on taxis for members of staff between 2016-17 and 2018-19.

The Northern Ireland Office (NIO) spent £87,267 on taxis for staff between 2016 and 2019, the amount increasing every year.

A further £5,877 was spent by the NIO on heating during summers between 2014 and 2018. The high was £3,038 in 2014 while the low was £129 in summer 2016.

TPA found that from 2014 to 2018, £793,621 was spent by five departments on heating buildings during the summer.

The department that spent the most on taxis was the Ministry of Defence, with a total spend of £3,498,317. Taxi costs at the department more than tripled between 2016-17 and 2018-19.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy spent the most on heating buildings during the summer from 2014-2018 at a cost of £375,668. Of this, it spent £195,197 in 2018 alone, which was the joint warmest UK summer on record.

A TPA spokesperson said that summer heating and unnecessary departmental taxis "are both a waste of taxpayers' money and produce needless carbon emissions".

Darwin Friend, researcher at the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: "When we emerge from the coronavirus crisis, it will be vital that government gets the public finances in order, focusing every penny on frontline services and cutting down on wasteful Whitehall spending.

“Taxpayers facing the highest tax burden in over half a century will think it's deeply unfair for the government to be wasting their money on cabs and summer heating, when both seem completely out of kilter with the government's headline net zero commitment.

"Whitehall ought to get its own house in order and put a stop to these wasteful anti-eco practices as soon as possible."

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