Ed Vaizey, the shadow minister for culture, was musing about the cost of ministerial cars today, here:
It would not surprise me at all to learn that the Government Car Service cost between Â£50 million and Â£100 million.
Yes, a ministerial car is a perk. So letâ€™s hear it for perks! Because if youâ€™ve just had a 12- or a 14- hour day and youâ€™re leaving the Commons after the last vote, itâ€™s wonderful to be able to slide into the seat of a car and relax while youâ€™re taken home, knowing youâ€™ll be lucky to get six hours sleep before your ministerial diary kicks in the next morning. I donâ€™t grudge that privilege to any serving minister and I wouldnâ€™t begrudge any future Tory minister, either.
None of them really seem to be doing their homework though. Funnily enough you can pull all the numbers you need out of the Annual Report of the Government Car and Despatch Agency, here. Government mail and car services are handily structured as a Department of Transport Executive Agency and they publish separate figures.
In 2007/8 they had 171 cars and 168 drivers and they cost Â£14.0 million to run. That is about Â£82K per car but I guess they don’t have all the cars and the drivers on the road at the same time so they probably have nearer to 150 cars out there operating and the effective cost per car is slightly higher than Â£82K but probably not quite as much as Â£100K. They bought Â£1.0 million worth of new cars and employed five managers who earnt over Â£50K in 2007/8. All employees are on civil service pensions. Nice work if you can get it.
It sounds like you could keep 50 odd cars for the real big knobs, lose 120 or so and save Â£10 million. They also have large premises at 46 Ponton Road in Vauxhall which would probably make a nice capital receipt thank you.
Ed Vaizey rather weakly says:
I am not advocating, by the way, coming in and sacking every driver.
I am sorry Ed we are not going to sort out our country’s financial mess without sacking quite a few government drivers. No doubt people will think that is a harsh position but can we get a grip please?
Update: Ooops. Got my Labour MPs called Tom mixed up.