£350k of rate payers’ cash forked out for consultants

WITH RATES about to be set for the coming year, the Council has defended spending hundreds of thousands of pounds annually on outside consultancy agencies.
Last year the Council spent a total of £344,197 on consultants, who are professionals who provide advice in particular areas of expertise.
That total covers spending on consultancy alone, and does not include further spending on outside services such as accountancy, communications, training, or IT and technology.
In the 2018/19 financial year, the Council made payments to over 30 different consultancy agencies, covering a range of areas from management to tax to the environment.
The highest payment was to engineering consultancy firm Doran Consulting Ltd, which received £96,392.
The second highest payment, of £52,200 went to Cogent Management Consulting LLP, a management advisory company. Another consultancy firm, Sector 3 Management Solutions, received £40,280.
Next highest payment was to Peter Quinn Consultancy Services Ltd, which received £26,535, also a management consultancy agency. Another company named Peter Quinn Consultants was separately listed as being paid £2,800 by the Council.
When the Herald asked the Council about its consultancy spending, it said it “invests in external expertise where specialist knowledge or advice is required and is not available in-house to deliver a range of services, programmes and capital projects.”
The Council is one of the area’s biggest employers with the Linked-in professional networking website saying it has a workforce of between 500 to 1,000 staff. Last year’s wages bill for council staff came to over £25m.
However the council insisted it had to hire in consultants when their ‘specialist expertise’ was required.
“The Council has found it much more cost-effective to buy in such expertise on a case-by case basis rather than employing specialist staff on a full time basis when the services are rarely required,” said a spokesman, who added this expertise had been used in a number of areas beneficial to the local community.
Meanwhile, the Council has also explained why it spent over £120,000 with Grafton Recruitment over the same period. Stressing it did have its own human resources department and recruitment procedures, a spokesman cited “exceptional circumstances to meet an immediate short term need” and said that figure not only included the agency’s recruitment fee, but the wages paid to the temporary employees. They added the £120,000 only constituted 0.5 percent of the Council’s total staff costs.

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