London fare payers are paying thousands of pounds to provide free medical benefits to senior Transport for London staff, their partners and children.
TfL bosses, who have claimed thousands of pounds on taxis, trains, magazine subscriptions and meals, are entitled to a medical plan as part of their renumeration packages.
In response to a Freedom of Information request, TfL has admitted the cost of the plan also “includes benefits available to family members (spouse/partners) and child dependents of chief officers”.
Since 2009 taxpayers have paid more than £49,000 to provide the plans.
The FoI response also confirms that all current chief officers are in receipt of a free all-zone Oyster card which can be used “on all modes of transport operated by TfL.”
Despite receiving free travel, TfL bosses have claimed thousands of pounds of taxi rides on expenses.
Last year transport commissioner Sir Peter Hendy claimed more than £2,500 on taxis and has claimed a further £800 in the first three months of this year.
TfL has previously defended the claims, saying Sir Peter “is overseeing the delivery of a ten-year multi-billion pound budget to manage transport in London, and also deliver Crossrail and the upgrade of the Tube and there are occasions when his full schedule and late hours necessitate the use of taxis”.
It also insists: “All expenditure within the organisation is carefully assessed to ensure it is essential to providing a safe, efficient, extensive and reliable transport network including expenses incurred by Chief Officers who often are called upon to travel out of the capital on business and attend conferences and other out of hours business related activities.”
Expenses claims which passed TfL’s internal “essential” expenditure test include magazine subscriptions, WiFi access and coffee mugs.
The FOI response also shows that all but one chief officer has claimed a nominee Oyster card, providing another adult at their main address with free travel across the TfL network.
The nominee pass is available to all TfL staff, but both Liberal Democrat and Conservative Assembly Members have called for it to be scrapped.
Last November the Mayor defended the nominee pass saying the cost of providing it was “nil as the amount of travel is insufficient to require additional services to be operated to cope with it.”
In its FOI response TfL added that: “It is expected that Chief Officers, particularly, and all TfL employees and their nominees are encouraged to use the public transport system and when on it they are expected to act as ambassadors for TfL, help assist our customers and identify and resolve safety and security issues.”
According to TfL’s 2010/2011 annual report, chief officers joining the organisation are also entitled to “recompense for loss of benefits from previous employers” arising from their decision to change jobs.
TfL’s ‘perks culture’ is at odds with the example set by Mayor Boris Johnson and London Assembly members who have significantly reduced their expenses claims.
In the most recent financial year the Mayor claimed just £107 on taxis, while a majority of Assembly Members made no expenses claims during the same period.
Although the Mayor and Assembly Members are also entitled to a free Oyster card to help them carry out their duties, they are not entitled to a nominee pass. And, unlike their TfL counterparts, City Hall staff have no entitlement to free travel.