Get involved: send your pictures, video, news and views by texting ECHONEWS to 80360, or email us »
Cost of consultants is ‘out of control’
BASILDON Council’s spending on external consultants is “out of control” according to a whistleblower who revealed more is being spent despite a huge cuts programme.
Council bosses have to shave £6.2million from the budget by April 2016, but the Echo has learned spending on consultants in the first five months of the current financial year has nearly reached the figure paid out for the whole of the previous 12 months.
In 2011/12 the council paid £382,391 on consultants for the whole period and between April to September 18 this year it spent £310,117 with more costs expected.
The council insists the increased costs are part of its cuts programme and it is “spending to save” by hiring cost cutting experts.
However, our source, who contacted the newsdesk anonymously, said: “I feel obliged to write, as spending by the top chiefs at the council is out of control.”
The source, who did not confirm the department they worked in, added: “The council has just set up a new team called the project management office and all the jobs combined come to more than £400,000.”
The whistleblower suggested good staff were being laid off in favour of highly-paid external consultants, adding: “Then they tell us there will be redundancies. Honestly it’s a joke.”
Despite the figure, the council has cut spending on consultants from £474,617 in 2010/11.
A council spokesman said consultants were also used as cover for hard-to-fill vacancies while computer firm V4 are helping run the council’s systems.
He added: “We have been making significant efficiencies for a number of years, but we must now fundamentally change the way we work.
“V4 bring expertise of working with large organisations such as ours and helping them through challenging transformations.
“We are also working with PA Consulting on the council’s customer strategy which will improve the way the council deals with its customers and make significant savings as part of the transformation programme.
“This up-front investment will help us save millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money by 2015/16 and ongoing in the future.”