Bradford Council accused of 'shocking' waste of taxpayers money
The figures, released under Freedom of Information laws, show that in 2021/22 the council spent £171,450 on 6,858 bonuses for staff paid from government-provided pandemic funding.
A spokesperson said that the payments were £25 gift cards to be spent in the local area as a thank-you for the work that they had done during the pandemic.
The council did not deny that some of the most high-paid staff also received the payment when approached by The Yorkshire Post.
Including pension contributions there were 10 Bradford Council staff earning more than £100,000 a year as of April last year, including Kersten England, the council’s chief executive and the top earning Council employee in Yorkshire.
Ms England, who earned £228,350 in 2021, told staff earlier this year that she will retire at the end of June.
Conor Holohan, media campaign manager of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: "This misuse of covid funding will shock taxpayers in Bradford and beyond.
"While the private sector was pummelled by the pandemic and millions watched their livelihoods disappear, council staff were being given blanket bonuses.
"Local bosses must urgently explain why they felt these handouts were a necessary use of taxpayers' money."
In response, the council said that the comments were a “desperate slur on public sector workers”.
The council has previously been criticised for its spending of pandemic funds after spending thousands of pounds on “gimmicks” from its Covid budget.
In 2021 the council revealed that it had spent over £10,000 on badges for Covid volunteers.
Last year the council lost control of children’s services in the city, with the Government forced to send in independent directors to run a new trust to take over.
A spokesperson for Bradford Council said: “This is a desperate slur on public sector workers. The Covid-19 pandemic was a hugely challenging time for all key workers in our district. Many of our staff went above and beyond, working very long hours under difficult circumstances to support and deliver front-line services to keep the district going.
“The weekly applause wasn’t just for the NHS, it was also for social care workers, refuse collectors and other public sector workers too. The Taxpayers’ Alliance needs to be reminded of how difficult those times were.
“Throughout lockdown our staff delivered food parcels, collected refuse without missing a week, and we even had staff moving into residential care homes away from their own families so that they could look after vulnerable people safely.
“All the staff who worked through this incredibly tough time were given a £25 gift voucher to spend locally as a small token of our thanks and gratitude. The voucher was not funded through Council Tax and we were not the only council or public agency who thanked their staff in this way.”