Join Date: Feb 2006
Spending watchdog’s £4k travel expenses for a one-minute walk from his hotel
The Quango chief charged with curbing wasteful public spending is being paid a £4,070-a-year ‘travel allowance’ – even though his daily commute is a one-minute walk between his office and a four-star hotel.
Eugene Sullivan, the £180,000-a-year chief executive of the Audit Commission – motto: ‘protecting the public purse’ – charges taxpayers £18,000 a year for his stays at the luxury Westminster hotel, plus more than £5,000 a year in train fares, taxis and car mileage.
On top of that he receives the ‘travel’ allowance, even though the hotel is 164 yards from his office.
Last night MPs reacted with fury to the disclosure. One described it contemptuously as his ‘walking allowance’ and called on Mr Sullivan, whose remit as head of the commission is to ‘drive economy, efficiency and effectiveness’ in public bodies, to pay back the money.
The fashionable £160-a-night Mint Hotel Westminster Mint, where Mr Sullivan stays, boasts an award-winning restaurant and offers suites equipped with ‘Apple iMac computers, floods of natural daylight and White Company luxury toiletries’.
The 62-year-old stays in the hotel three nights a week, before returning to his £500,000 family home in Ilkley, West Yorkshire, for the weekend.
On Thursday morning last week, he followed his usual comfortable routine at the hotel.
At 7am, he came down from his room wheeling two bags behind him, approached the concierge, informed him that he had left two suit carriers in his room and bid him a cheery ‘see you next week’.
He then embarked on the 60-second journey to his office in the adjoining Millbank Tower. By pocketing the allowance, he is effectively claiming £25 per yard per year.
The controversy, which comes as Chancellor George Osborne’s public spending cuts are about to bite, follows an aggressive stand-off last year between the Audit Commission and no-nonsense Communities Secretary Eric Pickles.
Short journey: Sullivan walks from his hotel, the blue building on the right, to the London office, the tower on the left
The Cabinet Minister angrily vetoed the commission’s request to offer a salary of £240,000 to attract ‘top candidates’ to the vacant chief executive’s position, saying he wanted to ‘send a signal’ by ‘blocking this massive salary’.
However, Mr Sullivan, who was promoted internally from his post as the commission’s managing director, appears to have secured a pay package of more than £250,000 nonetheless.
Although the commission states that his basic pay is £165,004, this
is topped up by an £18,000 ‘additional responsibility allowance’ and £43,704 in pension contributions.
Together with his hotel, travel and transport perks, Mr Sullivan’s total package comes to more than £250,000 – not including hundreds of pounds to pay for ‘subsistence’ meals while away from home.
Last night, Local Government Minister Bob Neill said the commission had ‘lost its way’.
He said: ‘I would like to know what the business case is for spending thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ cash like this.’
And Conservative MP Aidan Burley said: ‘Every week it seems the Audit Commission finds a fresh way of wasting taxpayers’ cash. Why should the public pay for a vanity travel allowance and bankroll luxury accommodation in a top hotel?
‘I find it deeply concerning that the Audit Commission appears to have boosted the chief exec’s salary to an eye-watering £250,000 with a series of perks. Mr Sullivan needs to do the right thing and immediately pay back his “walking allowance”.’
The annual cost of running the commission has risen from £93 million in 1997 to more than £200 million.
Since August it has had to publish all expenditure over £500, including £40,000 on pot plants, £170,000 on role-play training sessions and £4,600 on bagels.
Last night the commission said Mr Sullivan was eligible, as were all members of its management team, for a leased car, but could take a ‘transport allowance’ instead.
‘This allowance, which is taxable, is not intended to relate to travel between his usual London hotel and the commission’s HQ at Millbank Tower, as this is a walkable distance,’ it added.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/arti...#ixzz1GTgNXSfZ
I've got a suggestion for him if he wants to stop the waste of public money - "sack yourself you c**t."
Above post is my opinion unless it's a quote.