Cost of union time to Hartlepool Borough Council taxpayers revealed

Hartlepool Civic Centre.
Hartlepool Civic Centre.
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Hartlepool Borough Council shelled out more than £18,000 to provide union support for its staff last year.

Pressure group the TaxPayers’ Alliance (TPA) has looked at the cost of ‘facility time’ - paid time-off taken by trade union representatives to carry out union duties - to local authorities nationwide.

A huge amount continues to fund union duties, often without the express knowledge or consent of taxpayers, which simply isn’t right.

Alex Wild

The research found that in the financial year 2015-16, Hartlepool spent £18,211 on union activities.

The council had one member of staff who spent at least half their working time carrying out union duties and the cost was the equivalent of just 0.03 per cent of the council’s total wage bill.

A Hartlepool Borough Council spokesman said: “Just 0.03 per cent of Hartlepool council’s wage bill goes to trade unions and we are satisfied that this is below the national average for both the public and private sectors.

“It is also worth noting our spending on unions as a percentage of our pay bill is one of the lowest local authority rates in the North East.”

TaxPayers’ Alliance research director Alex Wild said: “Trade unions are voluntary bodies of members and so should only receive the support of those members, not taxpayers.

“A huge amount continues to fund union duties, often without the express knowledge or consent of taxpayers, which simply isn’t right.

“At a time when every part of the public sector has to make necessary savings, tens of millions of pounds cannot be wasted on subsidising political campaigns at the expense of hard-pressed families.”

TPA research in 2014 showed £108million had gone to unions, directly and through facility time. Unions also benefited from free office space.