Comment: Benefit has cost council taxpayers £16m

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most people will be astonished to discover that hundreds of council staff are being handed almost 100 days of paid leave in a single year in the Capital.

The perk was quietly introduced 11 years ago in what has to be viewed as an extraordinarily generous gesture by the city council.

The highly unusual arrangement – which sees the extra days off offered to all staff in their final year before reaching official retirement age – is not offered to firefighters, health workers or police officers. Nor is it offered to many other local authority staff elsewhere in Scotland. Needless to say no-one working for private firms gets this kind of indulgence.

This benefit has so far cost city council taxpayers £16 million – at a time when we are constantly told that the coffers at the City Chambers are almost empty.

No-one can fault the hard-working staff who are offered this bonanza of paid days off for taking it up. But it is hard to see any justification for continuing the arrangement today.

The same workers who enjoy this bonanza of paid leave will also pick up final salary pensions after enjoying this bonanza, unlike most of their counterparts in the private sector.

This is not, however, a straightforward case of public sector workers enjoying greater perks than those working for private firms. It is one of an individual workforce on the public payroll enjoying perks beyond the reach of the overwhelming majority of others, whether they are on the public payroll or a private one.

The current council administration will, reasonably enough, point the finger at their predecessors for striking this generous deal.

They have a choice now though – and the only reasonable step is to end this arrangement now. The millions of pounds it will save would be much better spent patching up our crumbling school buildings.