Ealing and Northfield

Questions: Facility Time

Facility time is one of those strange parts of our politics/law that is not talked about much. Probably because it is hard to justify. Apparently Scout leaders volunteer. Lifeboatmen volunteer. School governors volunteer. Lots of people give their time for others without reward. But, trade unionists have won paid time at work to do their union business. It is called facility time. Trades union types get very huffy when people question this arrangement so are quite happy that it is kept quietly hidden from view.

Earlier this year the TaxPayers’ Alliance estimated that this facility time was worth some £85 million across the UK state. They asked government bodies how much staff time was allocated. Ealing council answered 3.0 FTE. The TPA used a figure of £27,083.69 to cost this labour and thus came up with a figure of £81,251 for Ealing. At the time I suggested that this was an underestimate and that the figure was rather higher. Little did I know.

At the last council meeting the leader of the Conservative group on the council, Jason Stacey, asked the following question:

Question 43:

Could the Cabinet Member for Finance and Performance please give the figure for the budget for Trade Union facility time?

Answer 43:

Non teaching employees Trade Union Facilities budget (including non teaching unions in schools)

Trade Unions facilities budget for Teachers

So the total bill is £250K. This kind of money would buy you six to eight experienced teachers or social workers. Instead the council is paying union reps to organise at work. Can’t they do this in their own time?

2 replies on “Questions: Facility Time”


Reducing the number of Councillors who are paid overall a much larger sum would be far more economical. It is also the case that Councillors won a right to be paid. And please don’t tell me that the Allowance means we get the Councillors we want or better standards or better democracy.

However I think you should bang on much more about return on assets rather than ideology. You are totally right to suggest increasing hours of work and getting rid of those fancy holiday arrangements. I also hope that you will concentrate on greater productivity as well.

In your last post what was the point of the last sentence in the first paragraph? It jarred.



Your last point. The 17th Indian Div had a reputation for arrogance. They revelled in it, or at least my Dad does. Times were different then. It might be said of them today that they were a particularly cohesive unit that enjoyed good leadership and high morale. It was ably led by the legendary Major General “Punch” Cowan. The division won 7 VCs and 161 MCs in Burma. Arrogance is shorthand.


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