Councils have spent nearly £700,000 paying internet bills for staff working from home since 2019, as former Tory leader Ian Duncan Smith brands the move a ‘rough deal for taxpayers’
- Forty councils have spent nearly £700,000 on workers’ home internet expenses
- North Hertfordshire Council had the highest home internet bill for its staff
Councils are spending hundreds of thousands of pounds on paying work-from-home (WFH) staff’s household internet bills.
In total 40 councils have spent nearly £700,000 on workers’ home internet expenses since 2019, Freedom of Information requests show.
Labour and Liberal Democrat-run North Hertfordshire Council had the highest home internet bill for its staff, at £136,578 since 2021.
It said staff can claim £192 a year internet costs as part of a ‘homeworking expense’. Labour-run Newcastle City Council has spent £101,410 since 2019.
Overall, councils’ annual spending on staff home internet has increased since the start of the pandemic from £135,340 to £189,756, said the TaxPayers’ Alliance, which carried out the research.
Tory former leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith said: ‘It’s a rough deal for taxpayers. Why are they at home? Why can’t they go into the office and work there, cost less and be more productive? Instead Labour makes them less productive and the taxpayer, suffering under a cost of living crisis, picks up the tab.’
Forty councils have spent nearly £700,000 on workers’ home internet expenses since 2019
Central Bedfordshire has spent £79,547 on work from home expenses since 2019, with £418.80 being the highest single expense claim approved in a year.
Conor Holohan of the TaxPayers’ Alliance said: ‘Taxpayers will be furious that they’re subsidising these costs. Home internet access is an essential element of modern life and like any other basic living expenses, should be paid for by the person themselves.
‘Councils should immediately cease these payments and insist that staff come into the office if they don’t have internet at home.’
Councils have been criticised for allowing large numbers of staff to continue working from home after the pandemic.
The Local Government Association says: ‘Flexible working is good for retention and morale and gives people the ability to have more balance, which is good from a health perspective. As long as employers can balance that with the needs of the business, then it’s a win-win situation for everybody.’
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