This is why Leeds Council staff may have to pay to travel for jobs while at work

Leeds City Council staff will soon need to drive environmentally-friendly vehicles if they want to claim for work-related petrol costs.

Monday, 24th February 2020, 12:41 pm
Updated Monday, 24th February 2020, 12:42 pm

According to early plans, by 2025, anyone claiming work-related mileage will not be reimbursed unless they have a hybrid vehicle. In 2030, no reimbursements will be allowed unless the driver has an electric vehicle.

This looks likely to affect staff such as social workers and highways officers, as the use of their own cars is essential during a working day.

But council officers say it will help staff for whom travel is not essential to use technology where available, such as Skype for meetings.

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The meeting took place in Civic Hall.

Council staff are currently allowed to claim up to 45p per mile for work-related travel, which does not include commuting.

The authority added staff mileage, dubbed ‘the grey fleet’, contributes 4.2 million miles, and costs the taxpayer £3.25m a year in Leeds alone.

A council officer told a meeting of the authority’s strategy scrutiny board: “We need to think about the culture and behaviour of organisations.

“The policy decision will ensure that, by 2030 our grey fleet will be zero emissions, requiring them to have a hybrid by 2025 and an electric by 2030.

“Our staff are aware of choices they need to make, such as: can they do it remotely? Can they use Skype?”

He added that a ‘digital portal’ was set to be introduced to help staff meet remotely.

Coun Jim McKenna commented that car sharing would be a useful tool to help combat emissions, adding: “It’s not easy for everyone to go to the expenses of hybrids and electric cars.

“Can we have a fleet of electric cars that can be used for staff? A lot of our staff need to travel in work time because of the nature of the job, social services, planning and highways officers – that’s not going to go away and you can’t Skype that.”

“A fleet of electric cars would be a positive option.”

An officer claimed such a scheme was under consideration and that the authority was prioritising which job roles would require such a scheme.

Council officers for whom travel is essential, such as social workers, are classed as ‘essential’ users. They can currently claim an annual lump sum of £1,000, plus a further 40.9p per mile.

Other council officers, known as ‘casual’ users, get no lump sum but are allowed to claim 45p per mile.

There were a total of 3,420 casual and essential mileage claimants employed by Leeds City Council last year, with claims totalling £3.25m.