Govt officials splash £10mn of public cash on business flights in midst of austerity
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) squandered £5.5 million (US$7.6 million) on 3,109 business class flights between January 2017 and the middle of March 2018. The Foreign Office notched up £4.6million in expenses for 2,473 seats in the luxury cabin, according to statistics uncovered by the Scottish National Party (SNP).
The SNP’s Cabinet Office spokesman, MP Tommy Sheppard, hit out at the government for “frittering” taxpayers’ money away while benefits and taxes are cut.
“It’s time for the Tories to practice what they preach and tighten their own belts rather than spending taxpayers’ money like this – it can’t be luxury for them and austerity for the rest of us any longer.
“The UK government needs to show it’s using public cash responsibly, not frittering it away on G&Ts and extra legroom for politicians and Whitehall mandarins on their travels,” he told the Mirror on Monday.
The MoD replied by saying all officials should travel in economy unless there are “exceptional” circumstances.
“In these cases, a business case is required to demonstrate that the circumstances warrant a higher class of travel, for example if an overnight flight is required with significant work upon arrival,” the MoD said, the Mirror reports.
The statement added: “We have a rigorous approvals process to ensure travel is undertaken in the most economical way possible and are making significant savings in travel costs.”
The Foreign Office responded by saying: “FCO staff traveling by air are expected to book the lowest fare available.
“FCO officials may only fly business class on flights of more than 10 hours or on flights of more than five hours in exceptional circumstances,” the department told the Mirror.
It comes after it was reported in January that Whitehall officials spent a staggering £74 million at the taxpayers’ expense between April and March 2017.
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