How the Sunday Express turned £150 into £10

Or vice versa…

The Taxpayers’ (which ones?) Alliance  quote the Sunday Express, as follows:

The Local Government Association risked the coalition’s fury this month by recommending a 2.3 per cent rise in expenses while local services are slashed and employees’ pay is frozen. The association, which is exempt from the Freedom Of Information Act, has refused to publish details of councillors’ perks in “the current climate”…. A 2.3 per cent rise would bring the average daily allowance for councillors from £149.34 to £152.77.

A great story, with just two crucial flaws. The first is that it isn’t a recommendation, and the second that that isn’t the average daily allowance. Anyone in local government would immediately recognise that, since extrapolating to an annual sum would give a number which is earned by few Council leaders, let alone ordinary Councillors.

What the Sunday Express appear to have latched onto is the “day rate”.  In fairness to them, they seem to have cribbed it from a spectacularly disingenuous Government press release which fails to make clear that that “day rate” is simply a statistical measure of average pay in the country, from the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings. It most certainly does not translate into “the average daily allowance”. 

Take for example this report (pdf) from Wellingborough Council.  Councillors’ allowances there are reached by taking the day rate referred to above, and applying it to a presumed 47 days a year (any Councillor who manages their job in so little time is almost certainly doing it wrong) and then dividing it in two again to account for local government being seen as “partly voluntary”. The result being that rather than the £150 a day quoted, being a Wellingborough Councillor in fact earns one, over the course of the year, the princely sum of £9.20 a day. A large unitary or county council would pay more, but not 16 times more.

Almost as impressive as the time here when the local newspaper reported that Councillors had voted to quadruple their allowances. It was gently pointed out to them that they had in fact compared two columns in a spreadsheet, one of which was a quarterly outturn, and one of which was an annual projection. Oh well, I guess they’ll have more time to check their facts when they don’t have a Council freesheet to outcompete. Not sure what will cure The Express, though. National politicians who aren’t pulling cheap stunts to distract attention from themselves, maybe. Some hope!

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One response to “How the Sunday Express turned £150 into £10

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention How the Sunday Express turned £150 into £10 « The Local Government Officer -- Topsy.com

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