Ministers are launching a crackdown on taxpayer funding of trade union “militants” as they move to limit the amount of public funds spent on union activities.
Public sector workers including local authority staff, police and teachers can take paid time out from their duties to engage in union activities under an arrangement known as “facility time”, but the Government is drawing up legislation aimed at limiting the amount of taxpayer money that can be spent on this.
“Unions are taking taxpayers for a ride,” said a government source. “Lots of members of the hard-working public may not be aware that they are inadvertently subsidising trade union militants.”
The TaxPayers’ Alliance recently revealed that trade union officials could receive up to £199 million a year in “hidden subsidies” funded by the public purse.
Analysis by the think tank estimates that more than £100 million of facility time goes unreported, on top of the £98 million logged for 2020-21.
A ‘ridiculous waste of money’
A letter from Heather Wheeler, the Cabinet Office minister, seen by The Telegraph, explained the Government’s intention to implement guidance for all public sector bodies on the “proportionate use of facility time to ensure value for money to the taxpayer”.