Ministries have spent more than £ 14.2million on hire cars for staff this year despite a public sector pay freeze, an investigation has found.
In particular, the Ministry of Defense has come under fire for ‘wasting’ taxpayers’ money after revealing it spent nearly £ 13million on hire cars for staff in 2021.
The second highest figure came from the Department for Transport, which spent more than £ 1.1million on hire cars for staff. Other departments have spent up to tens of thousands of pounds.
The numbers, revealed by an access to information (FoI) request by PA news agency, showed that the Department of Defense spent £ 12,960,612 on rental cars through the Phoenix II vehicle contract in the current calendar year through November 30. The figure includes VAT but excludes fuel and other costs, he said.
The Phoenix II contract covers all so-called high-level budgetary areas of the Department of Defense, including land forces, air command, defense equipment and support, joint forces command, navy command , head offices and general services and the organization of defense infrastructure.
The MoD fleet covered by the Phoenix II contract offers a mix of rented and leased vehicles, including cars, minibuses, coaches, vans and freight transport, as well as specialized vehicles ranging from dog vans to horse-drawn ambulances in passing through mountain rescue vehicles.
Reacting to the revelation, Unite’s acting national officer for the Defense Staff, Caren Evans, called the figure “excessive” and was representative of the “ineffectiveness of the Department of Defense” .
She said: “This is a grossly excessive number, it shows how extremely inefficient the Defense Department is and exceptionally poor value for the taxpayer.
“This revelation of awe-inspiring spending on vehicles leased by the Defense Ministry is a kick in the teeth for Defense Ministry civilian staff who suffered a salary freeze this year and now find it difficult to join forces. two ends because of the cost of living crisis in the UK.
“The money spent on car rentals could and should have been better spent on giving Defense Ministry workers a much needed pay raise.”
In his 2020 expenditure review, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that salary increases for firefighters, teachers, police, members of the armed forces, civil servants, and staff of government boards and agencies would be “suspended.” to reduce expenses.
Shadow Secretary of Defense John Healey added: “The Department of Defense has spent millions of pounds on taxis at the same time as it downsized the military and froze the salaries of the forces.
“There is so much waste in Defense Department budgets and ministers have no control over the issues. This Conservative waste is failing frontline forces and taxpayers.”
The Defense Ministry justified its expenditure on rental vehicles because its staff “have to go to places that are not always accessible by public transport”, and said it was “determined to provide a good report. price quality “.
A spokesperson for the Department of Defense said: ‘As a large organization with out of town sites across the UK and bases all over the world, our staff need to travel to places that are not. not always accessible by public transport and often a lease / rental car or taxi is the most efficient and economical way to travel.
“We are committed to providing good value for money. Our current contract for non-operational vehicles aims to deliver savings of around £ 152million over six years. “
He added that all travel by Defense Ministry officials and military personnel must be confirmed as essential and authorized by an official to ensure the request is valid and represents value for money.
The Department of Transport and its executive agencies, which include the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA), and Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), spent over £ 1.1 million on rental vehicles between January and October.
He spent a total of £ 1,105,126 in the UK and overseas during this period, with the majority of the expenses incurred by the DVSA, for driving examiners who may need to move to another location to perform short-term testing.
He said: “While DVSA is aware of reservation patterns and volumes and aims to provide an appropriate number of staff in each location to meet the expected volumes, there will always be instances (on a daily basis) where DVSA needs to. move staff from their “home” testing center to an alternative center to meet growing customer demand and cover short notice absences.
“Departmental travel policy states that rental cars can be used rather than personal cars if that is more cost effective. “
Other departments have spent tens of thousands of pounds on hire cars for staff, including the Cabinet Office and the Department of Education, which spent £ 48,645.80 (excluding VAT) and £ 22,840 respectively between April and October.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) spent £ 76,262 from April to October. The department said Defra needed rental cars to access rural areas for field work.
Between January and October, the Department for International Trade spent £ 36,339 in the UK and overseas, and the Treasury spent £ 16,392.42, saying this included additional costs such as gasoline, fuel parking, congestion charges, the low emission zone (LEZ) and Dartford. Bridge.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Grading, Housing and Communities said it had not spent money on private rental cars for its staff this year, while the attorney general’s office had spent than £ 65.50.
Additional reporting by the Press Association