Bill for consultants at County Hall smashes through £1m barrier

Worcester News: County Hall, the HQ of Worcestershire County Council County Hall, the HQ of Worcestershire County Council

TAXPAYERS have had to fork out more than £1 million for outside consultants at Worcestershire County Council over the last year, it has emerged.

It is the third time in the last five years that fees on external advisers have smashed through the seven-figure barrier.

Your Worcester News has obtained a spreadsheet breaking down all the consultancy spending in 2013/14, revealing:

- Bosses spent £4,525 on 'commercial mentoring' where staff went out to see how the private sector operates

- £18,060 went on asking a private firm to look into how Worcestershire can dispose of its household rubbish

- £259,000 was spent on getting advice on a blueprint aimed at saving money, known as Future Fit

- Consultants were handed £4,750 to collect data on the amount of traffic in Worcestershire

- A staggering £168,000 went on IT consultants

- £3,000 went on advising the council what to do with its property assets

- Among the massive variety of other topics where consultants were called upon was website design, planning advice, boosting tourism, car parking management, the quality of social services and for holding public focus groups

The total spend in 2013/14 was £1.07 million, of which £663,000 came from the council itself.

The rest was from a variety of other sources like Government or European grants, other public sector bodies like district councils, the NHS or school funds.

The council's opposition Labour group has labelled the figures "an insult", saying it comes at a time when around £20 million a year is being slashed from budgets and 1,500 in-house jobs are being axed by 2018.

But the Conservative leadership insists the spending can be justified, saying it does not have all the expertise in-house to do everything.

Councillor Peter McDonald, Labour group leader, said: "While thousands of workers are being sacked, services being cut to the bone or gone altogether the consultants are having a field day.

"It cannot be right or justified that at a time of severe cutbacks and thousands of employees being thrown on the dole queue that such a staggering amount of money should be spent on consultants."

The council spent just under £900,000 on consultants in 2012/13 and £1.1 million in 2011/12.

Councillor John Campion, cabinet member with responsibility for transformation and change, said: "We mustn't forget the council is like any other business and just like a multinational business in the private sector, it evaluates the most efficient ways in which to get service provision at the best possible cost.

"In most cases the quickest and most effective solution is to use external organisations, as training up internal staff is both lengthy and would cost more in the long run."

He said the tally was a small percentage of the yearly wages to staff and insisted the council has an “excellent” reputation for saving cash.

Comments (15)

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3:01pm Wed 2 Jul 14

CJH says...

A million? Really? Who authorised it? How is it justified? Can the person responsible be charged with wasting (or should I say stealing) OUR money?
A million? Really? Who authorised it? How is it justified? Can the person responsible be charged with wasting (or should I say stealing) OUR money? CJH
  • Score: 3

3:21pm Wed 2 Jul 14

skychip says...

Unbelievable but still it is not their money so doesn't bother them
Unbelievable but still it is not their money so doesn't bother them skychip
  • Score: 4

4:00pm Wed 2 Jul 14

Perfman says...

LIARbour run shock horror overspending - WHO would have belived that then?
LIARbour run shock horror overspending - WHO would have belived that then? Perfman
  • Score: -3

5:53pm Wed 2 Jul 14

Spetchley Dave says...

Perfman wrote:
LIARbour run shock horror overspending - WHO would have belived that then?
Except of course that the County Council has been Tory controlled for the last few years.

Nice own goal you dimwit
[quote][p][bold]Perfman[/bold] wrote: LIARbour run shock horror overspending - WHO would have belived that then?[/p][/quote]Except of course that the County Council has been Tory controlled for the last few years. Nice own goal you dimwit Spetchley Dave
  • Score: 6

6:19pm Wed 2 Jul 14

grumpy woman says...

Ridiculous. Why are managers an councillors paid?
Ridiculous. Why are managers an councillors paid? grumpy woman
  • Score: 2

6:58pm Wed 2 Jul 14

green49 says...

I have voiced this before in my posts and although the Tory posters on here vote a minus all i can say is i have proved my point and THE TRUTH HURTS Hardman and his band of merrymen should be sacked.
I have voiced this before in my posts and although the Tory posters on here vote a minus all i can say is i have proved my point and THE TRUTH HURTS Hardman and his band of merrymen should be sacked. green49
  • Score: 3

7:56pm Wed 2 Jul 14

brooksider says...

Perfman wrote:
LIARbour run shock horror overspending - WHO would have belived that then?
Its a Conservative administration at County Hall, numbnuts.
[quote][p][bold]Perfman[/bold] wrote: LIARbour run shock horror overspending - WHO would have belived that then?[/p][/quote]Its a Conservative administration at County Hall, numbnuts. brooksider
  • Score: 4

10:42pm Wed 2 Jul 14

ispywithmylitleeye says...

What's the problem? Everyone has been saying the council should use the private sector rather than their own staff. You can't have it both ways.
What's the problem? Everyone has been saying the council should use the private sector rather than their own staff. You can't have it both ways. ispywithmylitleeye
  • Score: 4

2:46am Thu 3 Jul 14

Rita Jelfs says...

Councillor Campion says "Council is just like any other business, and just like any multinational company in the private sector it evaluates the most efficient ways to get service provision at the best possible cost." 1 million is not a 'tally'. Council is NOT a business/multination
al company. Its a public service agency which is paid for by scarce taxpayer funds. Did the high cost items go out to public tender? Was the lowest tender the most successful? Consultants ALWAYS cost more than internal staff. So, what's the value of corporate memory lost? So Worcestershire Council doesn't meet with other Councils to learn how they dealt with the same issues, to save scarce taxpayer money? And when they decide to move from a public 'monopoly' service provider to a private 'monopoly' provider that will be even more expensive. Because that's the only difference. Monopoly pricing. Microeconomics 1.
Councillor Campion says "Council is just like any other business, and just like any multinational company in the private sector it evaluates the most efficient ways to get service provision at the best possible cost." 1 million is not a 'tally'. Council is NOT a business/multination al company. Its a public service agency which is paid for by scarce taxpayer funds. Did the high cost items go out to public tender? Was the lowest tender the most successful? Consultants ALWAYS cost more than internal staff. So, what's the value of corporate memory lost? So Worcestershire Council doesn't meet with other Councils to learn how they dealt with the same issues, to save scarce taxpayer money? And when they decide to move from a public 'monopoly' service provider to a private 'monopoly' provider that will be even more expensive. Because that's the only difference. Monopoly pricing. Microeconomics 1. Rita Jelfs
  • Score: -2

5:45am Thu 3 Jul 14

jb says...

"In most cases the quickest and most effective solution is to use external organisations, as training up internal staff is both lengthy and would cost more in the long run."
What's the point of employing staff who aren't trained to do their jobs then? Training people who are employed by the council therefore are there for 'the long run' would be more cost effective than paying outside sources?
"In most cases the quickest and most effective solution is to use external organisations, as training up internal staff is both lengthy and would cost more in the long run." What's the point of employing staff who aren't trained to do their jobs then? Training people who are employed by the council therefore are there for 'the long run' would be more cost effective than paying outside sources? jb
  • Score: 0

8:47am Thu 3 Jul 14

green49 says...

The WCC is in absolute disarray, they have managers who are in charge of departments and some dont even know what they are supposed to be doing, the money to be paid out for essential services is in one big pot and the staff dont know if there departments can pay out for essential services as they dont know if the money is there, Taxpayers money thats supposed to be for a specific purpose is being used elsewhere, its a shambles, Getting in consultants that tell you what you already know is a waste of taxpayers money this administration are extremely good at wasting money but thats all they are good at, Hardman and his useless crew should be sacked, some Private service company contracts have been cancelled as the companies who took over running the council services have NOT delivered and the whole process will have to be started again, more waste of taxpayers money but then who cares we can affotd it cant we?
The WCC is in absolute disarray, they have managers who are in charge of departments and some dont even know what they are supposed to be doing, the money to be paid out for essential services is in one big pot and the staff dont know if there departments can pay out for essential services as they dont know if the money is there, Taxpayers money thats supposed to be for a specific purpose is being used elsewhere, its a shambles, Getting in consultants that tell you what you already know is a waste of taxpayers money this administration are extremely good at wasting money but thats all they are good at, Hardman and his useless crew should be sacked, some Private service company contracts have been cancelled as the companies who took over running the council services have NOT delivered and the whole process will have to be started again, more waste of taxpayers money but then who cares we can affotd it cant we? green49
  • Score: 4

2:45pm Thu 3 Jul 14

green49 says...

Rita Jelfs says...

Councillor Campion says "Council is just like any other business, and just like any multinational company in the private sector it evaluates the most efficient ways to get service provision at the best possible cost."LIES AND HE KNOWS THAT 1 million is not a 'tally'. Council is NOT a business/multination

al company. COUNCILLOR CAMPION HAS BIG IDEAS BUT NOTHING TO BACK THEM UP WITH, Its a public service agency which is paid for by scarce taxpayer funds. Did the high cost items go out to public tender? THE PRIVATE SECTOR ONLY WANTED THE MOST PROFITABLE,,, Was the lowest tender the most successful? NO IS THE ANSWER THE LOWEST TENDERS CAME IN FROM SOME COMPANIES THAT HAD ALREADY BEEN DISMISSED AS UNSUITABLE,Consultan
ts ALWAYS cost more than internal staff.WHO KNOW THE JOB BACKWARDS. So, what's the value of corporate memory lost? So Worcestershire Council doesn't meet with other Councils to learn how they dealt with the same issues, to save scarce taxpayer money? NO OF COURSE THIS MOB DONT. And when they decide to move from a public 'monopoly' service provider to a private 'monopoly' provider that will be even more expensive.YES IT WILL AS SOME SERVICES THAT COST PENNIES HAVE BEEN OFF LOADED AND WILL NOW COST THOUSANDS
Rita Jelfs says... Councillor Campion says "Council is just like any other business, and just like any multinational company in the private sector it evaluates the most efficient ways to get service provision at the best possible cost."LIES AND HE KNOWS THAT 1 million is not a 'tally'. Council is NOT a business/multination al company. COUNCILLOR CAMPION HAS BIG IDEAS BUT NOTHING TO BACK THEM UP WITH, Its a public service agency which is paid for by scarce taxpayer funds. Did the high cost items go out to public tender? THE PRIVATE SECTOR ONLY WANTED THE MOST PROFITABLE,,, Was the lowest tender the most successful? NO IS THE ANSWER THE LOWEST TENDERS CAME IN FROM SOME COMPANIES THAT HAD ALREADY BEEN DISMISSED AS UNSUITABLE,Consultan ts ALWAYS cost more than internal staff.WHO KNOW THE JOB BACKWARDS. So, what's the value of corporate memory lost? So Worcestershire Council doesn't meet with other Councils to learn how they dealt with the same issues, to save scarce taxpayer money? NO OF COURSE THIS MOB DONT. And when they decide to move from a public 'monopoly' service provider to a private 'monopoly' provider that will be even more expensive.YES IT WILL AS SOME SERVICES THAT COST PENNIES HAVE BEEN OFF LOADED AND WILL NOW COST THOUSANDS green49
  • Score: 0

6:56pm Thu 3 Jul 14

Alvarez says...

Ok. The authority cuts staffing levels, cuts entire teams/departments, and then this newspaper and the people commenting above are surprised that outside bodies are needed for specialisms that the council no longer has? What do you expect!
Ok. The authority cuts staffing levels, cuts entire teams/departments, and then this newspaper and the people commenting above are surprised that outside bodies are needed for specialisms that the council no longer has? What do you expect! Alvarez
  • Score: 9

1:15pm Mon 7 Jul 14

Perfman says...

~"A staggering £168,000 went on IT consultants"

~Thank you tax payers for my new BLT housing :)
~"A staggering £168,000 went on IT consultants" ~Thank you tax payers for my new BLT housing :) Perfman
  • Score: 0

3:59pm Mon 7 Jul 14

Marant says...

Looking at the quoted items, the only one there that doesn't seem likely to (hopefully) result in a future cost saving is the money spent on IT consultants. £168,000 works out to forty-two 40 hour weeks at £100/hour. That's a lot of consulting by any method of counting. Are the systems that messed up?

Take the £4,750 for the traffic surveys, that would cover one or two, possibly three traffic surveys. To do that in house, the council would need at least two members of staff (Health and safety - they can't work alone). Their salaries for the year would be more than £4,750. Of course, if they've got staff doing this already, then this might just be extra capacity bought in to cover extra that the council couldn't cover. Either way, it's no big deal. Most of the figures there are tiny in the scheme of council budgets. Does anyone know anything about what the £259,000 Future fit project is likely to save in the future? Without knowing, it's just complaints about sums of money that seem to be a lot. What if it saves £2 million?

£18,000 on waste management will quickly be recouped - landfill tax is £80 per ton. 225 tons not going to landfill will recoup that cost, and that's a drop in the ocean compared to how much waste is made in the county. Or they could have been looking at making collection routes more efficient, or any number of things.

This is just a fluff piece to stir up agro against the council because it's conservative run, and this is a labour leaning paper. There's no meat or substance to any of the items, it's just a list of things that have been spent.
Looking at the quoted items, the only one there that doesn't seem likely to (hopefully) result in a future cost saving is the money spent on IT consultants. £168,000 works out to forty-two 40 hour weeks at £100/hour. That's a lot of consulting by any method of counting. Are the systems that messed up? Take the £4,750 for the traffic surveys, that would cover one or two, possibly three traffic surveys. To do that in house, the council would need at least two members of staff (Health and safety - they can't work alone). Their salaries for the year would be more than £4,750. Of course, if they've got staff doing this already, then this might just be extra capacity bought in to cover extra that the council couldn't cover. Either way, it's no big deal. Most of the figures there are tiny in the scheme of council budgets. Does anyone know anything about what the £259,000 Future fit project is likely to save in the future? Without knowing, it's just complaints about sums of money that seem to be a lot. What if it saves £2 million? £18,000 on waste management will quickly be recouped - landfill tax is £80 per ton. 225 tons not going to landfill will recoup that cost, and that's a drop in the ocean compared to how much waste is made in the county. Or they could have been looking at making collection routes more efficient, or any number of things. This is just a fluff piece to stir up agro against the council because it's conservative run, and this is a labour leaning paper. There's no meat or substance to any of the items, it's just a list of things that have been spent. Marant
  • Score: 2

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