Response to the Audit Report on PCC Expenses
The audit of the PCC’s expenses looked at the tax implications arising from the decisions of the PCC firstly, to make use of a second office in Hungerford, local to his home and, secondly, to acquire a car and support officer to assist his travel around the Thames Valley. Both decisions were taken to improve his efficiency and productivity and the Hungerford office remains critical to the PCC’s ability to have local, secure, access to confidential police systems and communications.
The audit confirmed that the PCC does not prepare his own expense claims and relies on officers to advise him as to what mileage can be claimed in accordance with relevant rules and regulations. It also acknowledged that the PCC’s decision to operate from two offices resulted in “complicated” mileage claims as a result of his officers having to determine what journeys represented commuting mileage as opposed to business mileage, with the attendant risk that decisions could be made in good faith by different officers advising the PCC.
External specialist tax advice was sought and acted on, in good faith, by the Office of the PCC when these operational decisions were taken. Furthermore, the independent audit confirmed that the PCC could adopt the HMRC rules as the basis of his expense claims which, if the PCC had done so from November 2012 when he took up office, would have meant he could claim an additional £194 for journeys not previously claimed for. However, the PCC has declined this opportunity to submit back-dated claims in respect of this £194.
Instead, the PCC has accepted the detailed findings and recommendations contained in the audit report, including the finding that 6 out of 41 of his actual claims with a value totalling £142 were incorrectly claimed on his behalf. He has therefore taken prompt action to rectify matters, including the repayment of the £142 over-claim whilst not pursuing reimbursement of the £194 mileage expenses that would otherwise have been entitled to claim.