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Edinburgh Live
Edinburgh Live
Marie Sharp

Allowance for East Lothian Council homeworkers doubles but leader warns it is not enough

Calls are being made for the tax free allowance which can be paid to staff who work from home to be increased to reflect the cost of living crisis.

East Lothian Council today agreed to double the annual allowance it pays its workers to the maximum they can receive before paying tax.

However council leader Norman Hampshire said staff should be receiving more as he appealed for more to be done to raise the barrier put in place by HMRC.

READ MORE: Rent arrears in East Lothian fall below £1 million for first time in over a decade

A meeting of the council's Labour administration cabinet heard that the number of employees working from home stands at 236 with an estimated 400 staff potentially able to homework.

The virtual meeting heard that the number of people signing up to home working contracts had "plateaued" as energy prices were expected to increase.

Cabinet agreed to proposals to increase the annual work from home allowance from £156 to £312 to encourage more people to sign up.

But concerns were raised that additional funds would be needed to support staff during the cost of living crisis.

Morag Ferguson, the council's head of corporate support told the meeting: "Numbers of employees working from home have plateaued as staff are concerned about utility costs and the impact it will have if they continue to work from home."

She told cabinet the cost of paying the additional allowance would be covered by the council's "asset rationalisation project", adding that encourage more staff to work from home was one of the council's "primary tools to drive new ways of working, efficient use of our estate and measures to address the Climate Emergency".

Councillor Hampshire voiced concern that the maximum amount allowed before workers could face tax issues would not be enough to cover costs in the months ahead.

He said: "This benefit will help but really with energy costs and work from home costs going up the amount they should be paid is even higher, but if we go higher there is an impact on our workers.

"Is there anything else we can do to make a request for a greater allowance. ”

Ms Ferguson told cabinet local politicians and local authority's overseeing body COSLA had been in discussion over the allowance limit.

She said: "All we can do is continue to put pressure on HMRC in light of the economic climate."

The cabinet agreed unanimously to the increased allowance which will come into effect from next month.


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