At a time when councils are pleading austerity and raising council tax levels, residents may be dismayed to hear that councils in England & Wales have spent nearly £6.8m on flights to destinations including the Caribbean and Asia.
The research by the TaxPayers alliance shows that since 2015 £6,792,500 on air travel, with each local authority spending an average of £29,152.
According to the Alliance, In England where Council tax has risen by 57 per cent in real terms over the last 20 years, councils spent an annual average of £976,817 on flights since 2015.
Residents of some councils may question the necessity of some of the flights. Sunderland City Council spent £26,583 on six business class flights to Tokyo while Northamptonshire County Council spent £9,325 on six flights to Montego Bay in Jamaica, Three sectors of those flights were a premium economy fare, significantly higher than a standard economy fare.
According to the research 182 local authorities took a total of 5,393 non-domestic return flights.
John O’Connell, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “For many families, council tax is the largest monthly bill to pay, and it’s shocking that their hard earned money is being misspent by some local authorities in this way.
These local authorities need to find millions in savings in the coming years and with modern technology like video conferencing they needn’t spend large sums of taxpayers’ money on plane tickets.”
Whilst most people would understand the need for overseas trips in the course of council business, the fact that many are flying premium economy, business or even first-class at a time when local authorities are closing amenities makes it harder to justify.