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Council staff pay for personal calls with taxpayer cash

December 9, 2011 5:01 PM

£536,000 of waste on Council mobile phones was identified by the Liberal Democrats in February's budget proposals. An Audit Report published this week revealed that the waste continues with the Conservative-run Council still allowing staff to make personal calls and not claiming back the cost.

Cllr Jon Hubbard, Lib Dem Group Leader, said"We've given the Conservatives almost a year to sort this out, but they just aren't paying attention to where savings can be made. We've got to cut costs in areas that don't affect frontline services, and the mobile telephone budget is a perfect example.

"This week we saw the Conservatives put another 600 jobs at risk at the Council. How many of these could have been saved if the Conservatives had made the savings we suggested at the start of the year?

"Every Conservative Councillor at February's Budget meeting voted to dismiss the £536,000 of Lib Dem savings. Rather than save money by cutting irresponsible spending, the Conservatives want to cut jobs. Will they now ignore even their own Internal Audit report?

Cllr Jeff Osborn, Lib Dem Spokesperson for the Scrutiny Committee commented"The Audit Report correctly points out the 'reputational risk' associated with this. Continuing to waste money across the Council whilst cutting crucial jobs left, right, and centre is giving the Conservative Administration a nasty reputation."

Wiltshire Liberal Democrats identified £0.536 million of savings from the mobile phone budget in 2011/12. Details available at www.wiltshirelibdems.org.uk/what-we-stand-for/budget-proposals-february-2011/46-finding-the-savings

The Audit Committee papers for 14th December are available at https://cms.wiltshire.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=155&MId=6485&Ver=4 with the relevant section beginning on page 49.

The report identifies 2 High Risk Issues:

The telephony budget could become overspent if it is not closely monitored. As well as the financial implication, there is also a reputational implication in the current climate.

The Council is paying for its employees' personal calls and not recouping the costs through payroll due to employees not submitting their call spends on the VCol (Vodafone) site and the Intranet. There is a reputational and financial risk associated with this.