Workers paid twice for election duties

Sheffield Local elections count at the English Institute of Sport, Attercliffe, Sheffield.
Sheffield Local elections count at the English Institute of Sport, Attercliffe, Sheffield.
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Hundreds of council staff who volunteered to man polling stations and help count ballot papers in Sheffield at the local elections were paid twice for their work, The Star can reveal.

Sheffield Council workers not in front-line roles were allowed an extra day of paid leave on top of normal holidays and lieu days to carry out the duties.

They then received extra payments from the returning officer John Mothersole, which were funded by the Government.

There were 700 people on duty manning polling stations and helping with the count on May 5 - many council workers.

Payments of £138 were given to poll clerks who worked a 16-hour day from 6.30am to 10.30pm, while counting staff received £70.

Sheffield Council said paying council staff extra when they were on paid lieu days was standard across the country and ensured there were sufficient trained and experienced staff.

But the TaxPayers’ Alliance campaign group has slammed the practice.

Research director John O’Connell said: “It’s absurd the council simply gave the staff paid time off to carry out election duties, only for them to be paid again by the Government for the same thing.

“This should have come out of their holiday time as election staff already receive a fee for performing their tasks. It’s this kind of perk that can be easily cut out of council’s budgets as they look to make necessary spending reductions, they can’t carry on treating taxpayers’ as an instant cash machine.”

Alistair Griggs, director of modern governance at Sheffield Council, said: “Poll clerks and count staff are employed by the returning officer and not Sheffield Council.

“All council staff who undertake the role of poll clerk can only take the day off their council duties if the service can run effectively without them.

“This is a long standing practice in Sheffield and across other authorities. Under no circumstances would agency staff be brought in to fill the role of council staff who wish to take on poll clerk duties. If this was the case, the council staff member would be refused the time off.

“We are constantly reviewing procedures to make efficiencies and this is one area we will be looking at more closely ahead of the next election.”