EAST Lancashire councils have been accused by campaigners of wasting cash by paying staff too much in vehicle mileage rates.

The TaxPayers’ Alliance (TPA) said the local authorities are paying above the rate of 45p per mile for the first 10,000 miles set by HM Revenue and Customs as the approved amount.

Their figures said six East Lancashire District Authorities: Burnley, Ribble Valley, Pendle, Hyndburn, Rossendale, and Chorley all paid above the odds for their total mileage spending of £199,776 in 2016/2017.

The TPA also claims Blackburn with Darwen Council, an all purpose authority, which also provides social care, transport and education services which require more staff driving paid out £482,923 at 52.2 pence per mile.

Only Lancashire County Council, which provides similar services for its 12 district council areas, paid the 45p a mile rate for its £4million annual expenditure on staff travel.

The councils hit back saying they paid nationally agreed rates and that the TPA figures did not take account of differing rates for different vehicles and lower payments for staff doing high mileages.

Burnley paid out £23,733 at 52.9p a mile inside the borough and 25p outside.

Chorley’s total payout at 65p a mile was £32,188 while Hyndburn’s, also at 65p was £23,119,

The campaign group said Pendle, using 46.9p a mile paid out £40,982 in 2016/17; Ribble Valley at 52.2p paid out £45,054; and Rossendale at 46.9p paid £34,700.

John O’Connell, the TPA chief executive, said: “There’s no excuse for councils to pay more than HMRC’s approved rate for mileage.”

A Pendle council spokeswoman said: “Our car mileage rate is 46.9p for the first 8,500 miles and 13.7p per mile after.”

A Burnley Council spokesman said: “The mileage rate was lowered last month to 52.2p per mile but this only applies to journeys made within Burnley borough. The rate for journeys outside the borough is 25p per mile.

“The top rate is in line with nationally agreed guidance and is comparable with that set by all but one of the other East Lancashire authorities.”

A Ribble Valley Borough Council spokesman said: “Our mileage rates were nationally negotiated and have been frozen for many years.

“Ribble Valley at over 244 square miles is one of the largest boroughs in the UK.”

David Fairclough, Blackburn with Darwen Council’s director of corporate services, said it paid four different rates between 36.9p a mile and 52.2p for different users with different sized car.

He said: “The amount which the council pays for mileage is in accordance with what is agreed nationally by the National Joint Council. ”

A spokesman for Lancashire County Council, said: “The county council’s mileage allowance is 45p per mile for the first 10,000 miles and 25p per mile thereafter. This is in line with HMRC-approved mileage rates.

“We spend just over £4m each year on mileage allowances which reflects the huge area we cover as the fourth largest council in the country.”