Monday 17 September 2012

BOGOF - City of Edinburgh Council Style

Don't you wonder when the supermarkets offer a 50% discount - Isn't the price of one double what it used to be?

In a similar vein, City of Edinburgh Council offer 50% subsidized allotment plots for those people on pensions and benefits. But they also insist that the allotment pay for themselves. The two goals are incompatible.

By the Council's logic, because 1/4 of the rental income is missing as a result of the "subsidy" everyone's rent has to rise  by 34%  (including the subsidized rate) to make good the shortfall. So the 50% subsidized rate is only a 16% cut at the break even point where income equals outgoings. This is the road we are travelling down in Edinburgh.  The attractive subsidy just comes from putting up rents.

Here are the figures:

City of Edinburgh Council collects rents on 1,019 allotment plots.

 506 are full rentals (£80), 513 are concessions (£40). So the split is just about 50:50.  

If everyone paid the full rate the full 2012 rental income (£80 per plot) would be £81,520. 

Instead as roughly half of the rentals are at the subsidized rate the rental income is in fact £61,000

The Council calculates their actual allotment costs for 2012 as £73,337  (revised up from  their initial estimate of £63,654) . 

These costs are greater than the actual rental amount received  (£61,000 as above) but less than
the rental income plus the the subsidy due from the Council (£81,520 as above).

So inclusive of the Council's contribution Edinburgh Allotments already run at a profit. And yet rents are going up £10 next year and another £10 in 2014 up to £100.  By that stage City of Edinburgh Council, having washed their hands of financing the subsidized rates, will be making a fat profit from the allotments.  The allotment holders will be saddled with funding the subsidy and paying the Council a new tax.

But this is not going to be a shock to FEDAGA,  the organisation supposedly representing the interest of  allotment holders in Edinburgh, because the FEDAGA committee came up with this scheme specifically to generate a profit for the Council.  Their cockeyed justification is that by making a profit from allotments the Council will then have a capital fund to purchase new sites.  Effectively the burden of the allotment expansion scheme fall on the existing allotment holders (who cannot benefit there being a limit of one allotment per person).  How this madness won the day is easy to see from the Council's point of view.  From any other angle it is completely crazy logic.   You can buy a lot of veg for £100, and you have to fork out quite a bit to run an allotment, in terms of sweat, time and money. The rent rises are just not fair. Something to discuss at our site AGM this weekend, along with the flooding problem!


  1. Hi Mal
    Wow £80 a year climbing up to £100 does seem steep to me. I agree you can buy lots of veg for that money. I don’t reckon I could grow £100 worth of veg each year on one plot even in the mild south (well northern England) compared to Edinburgh.
    I think growing more fruit increases the yield money wise but there again it can involve more outlay in the beginning. The work doesn’t seem quite so intensive with fruit but perhaps that because Sue looks after most of the fruit patches. I just do some picking and eating!
    I’m certain I couldn’t cover the cost of our plots including time, effort and all the other extras that go towards “running” our plots. I just have to convince myself it’s a bit of a hobby so spending a bit extra is okay. I’m sure I could spend much more following a football or rugby team around the country most weekends.

    1. Good strategy on the fruit front Martyn! And yes allotmenteering is not just a financial equation, but if you don't attend to the financial realities you can be sure some joker is going to take you for a ride. It amazes me that so few of the 1,500 or so Edinburgh allotment holders (many plots are halved) seem to have noticed that their own organisation is volunteering rent rises in their name! All very convenient for the Council.

  2. Our allotment rents have increased but certainly not to that amount. I don't know what the rents are in town but as we are a village the land belongs to the parish council so it's them we have to deal with though I have to admit to not knowing too much about the in's and out's of all that...I no doubt would be totally disgusted with it if I looked into it too deeply though so I think while our allotments remain at the price of less than £1.00 a week and we have ruining water and that also includes insurances and membership to NSALG plus no chance of flooding I will ignore the politics of it and just enjoy my veg.

    1. You know what Tany, that's all I want to do too! But when the lunatics have taken over you find it is suddenly too late to restore order. Rents will never come down, you only can control how fast they go up!

  3. It's a real shame about the increase in rents. I think it has risen everywhere. Our allotment rates went from £16 to £25 in just 3 years. More than a 50% increase...

    1. Hi Martin and Amy. Local Authorities tend to watch each other and follow like sheep, which is one reason why I am publicising the situation in Edinburgh as loudly as I am able. If they get away with it others will follow! Any rise above inflation as measured by the RPI should be challenged. You can put the break on rent rises but you will never get a reduction in the annual rate.

  4. When we were discussing self management with our council I brought up the issue of subsidised plots as this would have affected our income considerably. I suggested that subsidising plots should really come out of different budget - something like the social services budget for instance.

  5. Sue, How clever of you to spot a key factor so early on. We need your expertise in Edinburgh!