Sunderland council pays out £130,000 in ‘slips and trips’ compensation

Sunderland Civic Centre.
Sunderland Civic Centre.
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Sunderland City Council paid out more than £130,000 in compensation payments over the last two years.

New figures from the Taxpayers’ Alliance show the council shelled out £119,766.19 in the financial year 2013-14, but just £14,925 in 2014-15 – a total of £134,691.19.

The city council is very aware of compensation claims – perhaps the Taxpayers’ Alliance could also advise how local government compares to central government on pay outs?

Coun Mel Speding

“Trips on the footpath” were the main source of complaints, with six claims in 2013-14 and three in 2014-15.

Other claims included falling on the road, injury from equipment and falls in the playground and park.

Across the North East, £5,033,303 was paid in compensation by local authorities over the two years.

Newcastle City Council shelled out more than £800,000 and Durham County Council almost £550,000.

City council cabinet secretary Coun Mel Speding said: “The city council is very aware of compensation claims – perhaps the Taxpayers’ Alliance could also advise how local government compares to central Government on pay outs? In any case or instance where the council is held responsible, remedial action is taken to help prevent anything similar happening again.

Nationwide, nearly £8,000,000 was paid out by councils in claims related to potholes during 2013-2014 and 2014-2015.

The highest single payment was £1,475,000 for “manual handling” by Norfolk County Council in 2014-15

Taxpayers’ Alliance chief executive Jonathan Isaby said: “The compensation culture is costing taxpayers dear and every pound spent on settlements or higher insurance premiums is a pound that isn’t spent on essential services, such as road maintenance or social care.

“Of course, some of the payments made by councils will be entirely justified, as the most serious accidents can change lives.

“But in many cases, local authorities and their staff will be failing to live up to the standards required of them by law or paying out on frivolous claims too easily.

“Councils must do everything they can to ensure their mistakes and negligence don’t result in such large bills for hard-pressed taxpayers – and take appropriate action against staff whose actions result in costly claims.

“We must also root out those who are playing the system with spurious demands for taxpayers’ cash.”