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Saturday, 23 August 2014

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£48,000 allowance for Cumbrian nuclear boss’s London home

Nuclear Decommissioning Authority boss John Clarke has been plunged into a political row over a £48,000 a year allowance he gets to pay for a second home in London.

John Clarke   photo
John Clarke

The £4,000 a month payment is part of Mr Clarke’s £462,000 salary package.

As workers across the UK continue to struggle with below inflation pay deals for the fourth year running, one Copeland councillor labelled Mr Clarke’s second home allowance “excessive.” But NDA bosses say the payment is a “cost-effective” alternative to claiming hotel and subsistence expenses.

Mr Clarke, who lives in west Cumbria, is obliged to spend at least half of his working time in London – but some Copeland councillors suggested the second home allowance should be reviewed given the current era of austerity.

Brian Dixon, Copeland’s independent councillor for Distington, said: “The vast majority of working people in this country don’t even earn a wage which is anything like this man’s allowance.

“These people already have gold-plated pensions, and at a time when this Government is attacking working class people on their pensions, this kind of thing is just excessive.

“Bear in mind the cuts in local council budgets. Most local authority employees will get annual pensions of around £5,000 so for this man to get £4,000 in housing allowance just shows the injustice of it.”

Seascale’s conservative Copeland councillor David Moore accepted that Mr Clarke must spend a lot of time in London but said the payment – more than twice the £1,700 given to MPs to pay for second homes – should be reviewed.

He added: “It seems an excessive amount. The cost of his accommodation should be in line with that of other civil servants.”

Matthew Sinclair, boss of the Taxpayers’ Alliance, said: ‘At a time when budgets are so tight for families and Government alike, taxpayers will be shocked at the size of the pay and perks package which John Clarke is enjoying.”

But Copeland’s Labour Mirehouse councillor, Peter Kane, for many years a Sellafield union convenor, offered a degree of support.

He said: “It may be a bit over the top but it depends what he is renting. If entertaining is a part of his role then he can’t do it in a bedsit.”

An NDA spokesman said: “The package paid to John Clarke in his first full year as chief executive officer of the NDA was £461,855 – 32 per cent less than his predecessor in the role, Tony Fountain, who received £679,477 in 2011/12. Mr Clarke, who lives in west Cumbria where the NDA’s headquarters are, is obliged to spend a significant amount of time in London working with government officials and Ministers.

“The £48,000 he receives to rent a property in London is subject to tax at the higher rate meaning he has a net £26,400 to spend – £2,200 per month. This allowance is designed to be a cost effective way of enabling him to carry out his duties in London compared to the alternative of claiming hotel and subsistence expenses.”

Having a London base also cuts travel costs.

A former pupil of Wyndham School, Egremont, Mr Clarke took up his chief executive post at the NDA in April 2012.

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