Council compensation bills top £100 million

New research by The Taxpayers’ Alliance has reported that councils in Great Britain paid out over £100 million in compensation claims over the last two years.

The data presented suggests that many local authorities across the country are falling short in delivering services, with the inadequacy prompting high compensation claims.

Many of the claims centre around pothole repairs, with an attributed cost of £8,000,000, and general road maintenance. The highest figure paid out in a single claim was £1,475,000 by Norfolk County Council for ‘manual handling, while the North West paid out the highest amount in compensation claims, totalling £21,906,616.

Less serious claims included Wiltshere Council’s £393 claim for ‘Horseplay’ and a £2,360 claim by Birmingham City Council for the claimant walking into an open window.

Jonathan Isaby, chief executive of The TaxPayers' Alliance, said: “The compensation culture is costing taxpayers dear and every pound spent on settlements or higher insurance premiums is a pound that isn't spent on essential services such as road maintenance or social care.

“Of course, some of the payments made by councils will be entirely justified, as the most serious accidents can change lives. But in many cases, local authorities and their staff will be failing to live up to the standards required of them by law or paying out on frivolous claims too easily.”

A spokesman for the Local Government Association issued a reminder that the £100 million in compensation remains less than 0.05 per cent of all local authorities’ expenditure over the same two year period.

He commented: “Councils are determined to crack down on spurious cases which are a waste of the public purse and threaten councils' ability to protect the services people value the most.

"Councils strive to provide value for money for the taxpayer against a backdrop of rising funding pressures. Local authorities are still committed to fixing potholes and working with schools to provide teaching staff with classrooms where they and their pupils are happy and protected.”

Meanwhile, six group leaders from East Sussex Council have sent a joint letter to David Cameron claiming that the latest cuts are ‘unrealistic’, warning of the damage they will have on local services.

The local authority has revealed it will have to raise council tax by 3.99 per cent from April as it attempts to deal with savings between £70-90m by 2019.

Claiming it is an issue that ‘transcends politics, Cllr Keith Glazier said: “We’re calling on the government to acknowledge the impact of funding cuts, particularly on social care authorities, to work more closely with local councils and to adopt a fairer approach to the way it allocates funding.”