Derbyshire County Council Spent 12 Times The National Average on Award Ceremonies

21 February 2019, 08:16 | Updated: 21 February 2019, 08:17

money

Councils across the UK have spent more than £6.5 million on award ceremonies in the last three financial years, according to a new report.

Tory-controlled Derbyshire County Council forked out £218,483 on award events - the highest in the country.

A total of 13 councils spent more than £100,000 on supporting award ceremonies, while 65 spent nothing.

A spokesman for the Local Government Association said many of the events listed were "fully funded by sponsorship".

The figures, published by campaign group the TaxPayers' Alliance (TPA), are from Freedom of Information (FOI) data requests for local authority spending on awards ceremonies in the financial years 2015-16, 2016-17 and 2017-18.

According to the TPA's report, councils spent £6,593,523 on award ceremonies at an average cost to the taxpayer of £18,064 per council.

Derbyshire County Council's spending was over 12 times the national average and £14,658 more than all Welsh councils combined, the report said.

A spokeswoman for Derbyshire County Council said the figures related to staff long service awards, with the council now spending "less than half what has been reported".

She added: "Derbyshire is one of the biggest council employers in the country with around 12,000 staff.

"Having a loyal and dedicated workforce saves us a lot more money in recruitment than the cost of these awards."

John O'Connell, chief executive of the TPA, said families would be "disappointed" to discover councils spending money on "unnecessary extravagances".

He added: "There's nothing wrong with congratulating staff who work hard or celebrating local businesses, but councils should prioritise the essential services that they are paid to provide.

"It's encouraging to see that so many councils were successful in negotiating sponsorship arrangements to pay for some ceremonies, and all local authorities in the UK should seek to do the same."

The TPA said it sent FOI requests to 419 councils in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, with 53 failing or refusing to respond or providing an "inadequate" response.

A spokesman for the Local Government Association said: "Awards ceremonies range from the promotion and support of local businesses, recognising the valuable work of volunteers or bringing communities together to celebrate what is positive about where they live.

"The value of these events is worth far more to communities and local economies than their cost."