Council being abolished gives all staff £350 bonus before Christmas

Richmondshire District Council offices at Mercury House. Photo: Google.

Richmondshire District Council has agreed to give every member of staff, including part-time workers, a £350 bonus in time for Christmas.

A full meeting of the authority saw councillors approve a proposal to hand all employees the equivalent money to about 1,000 Kilowatts of energy by a strong majority.

The meeting had been told the move would cost £93,000 and be funded from the authority’s Taxpayers’ Reserve.

The decision follows the county council’s executive approving a “section 24” move in May, to scrutinise all moves by district and borough councils to spend more than £100,000 ahead of them being disbanded on March 31.

While many district councillors across the county expressed dismay over the move as it limited their jurisdiction, the county council said the check was vital to provide a carefully co-ordinated shift to a single over-arching authority and ensure adequate funds are available for North Yorkshire Council from the spring of next year.

The staff bonus decision also comes after Richmondshire council bucked the national trend by freezing its council tax demand earlier this year to help residents financially, and instead used more than £300,000 of reserves to continue providing all its services.

The proposal was brought by a Conservative former deputy leader of the authority, Councillor Ian Threlfall, who told the meeting the council had a duty to assist its staff “as a responsible employer”.

He said: “The action that we need to take is short and swift. The reason why is because due to the horrific conflict in Ukraine we all are finding ourselves facing a cost of living crisis, not just in Richmondshire or England, it’s across the world.”

Coun Threlfall said he had noticed various initiatives by companies, such as those offering free transport to work or free meals at work, to alleviate “those running costs that we all have to bear to keep our house and home.

He said the total cost of the move, including extra National Insurance contributions, would be about £93,000.

Coun Threlfall said: “That £93,000 was very important because what I didn’t want to do was trigger s24 [section 24]. It would then go to another level of bureaucracy, more discussion, and we wouldn’t be able to face this crisis head on.”

No one spoke against the proposal and members said they did not wish a decision to be delayed otherwise the council workers would not get the bonus in time for Christmas.

The authority’s leader, Councillor Angie Dale told the meeting Coun Threlfall’s proposal was “a really good idea”.

After the meeting, North Yorkshire County Council leader Councillor Carl Les said the section 24 limit of £100,000 had been imposed to ensure there was no “spurious spending of cash reserves by authorities which are no longer going to be in existence”.

Coun Les added: “I wouldn’t say it’s bureaucracy, I would say it’s just another check and balance to make sure a scheme is valid. I think making sure it stays underneath that check and balance just to make sure it doesn’t have a further bit of scrutiny is not the intention of section 24.

“However, it would be up to individual councils to debate and decide and there’s no doubt that there’s a cost of living crisis affecting all people in the community.

“What they need to remember is that this is taxpayers’ money they are spending, who are also facing the cost of living crisis as well. “

6 Comments

  1. Wouldn’t the money be better spent on going towards keeping the Colburn Leisure Centre open instead of giving it to people in safe well- paid employment?

  2. It really beggars belief that the Council uses tax payers money to give their staff a bouns and for what?
    The tax payers are also experiencing cost of living issues and no one gives them anything
    To say it comes from reserves doesnt matter it is still cash that could be used for the benefit of the community at large and not just to fund people in generaly well paid and certainly secure jobs
    They obviously kept it below the £100 k threshold to avoid discussion otherwise they would probably have paid them more
    What a waste

  3. Surely there are better community wide projects that need funding rather than a handout to staff at a level who do not need support. It’s an awful lot of money that could be spent on keeping the elderly in warm spaces or hungry/homeless people with a hot meal.

  4. Outrageous! How can any responsible Council use “tax payer reserves” to give an effective Christmas bonus to its staff. Who do they think pays for this? Hard pressed individuals, many of whom are struggling to pay bills, including Council Tax is the answer.

  5. Can’t believe the council can get away with this, it’s shocking! There are so many local residents and local community groups and projects who need support more than staff, they have obviously done this in a way to stop any further scrutiny which is not transparent and certainly not in the local communities interest, so disappointing.

  6. This is an incredible and in my opinion wrong decision to use public money to give a bonus to council staff. Is this an across the salary pay range gift or is it being paid to staff who are genuinely so poorly paid they need this top up?
    This public money should be used for the benefit of the wider community.

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