SO THE Projects and Partnerships Overview and Scrutiny Committee of our council think it is a good idea to use Northgate Consultants to achieve efficiency savings. This will cost us the people of Scarborough £800,000 over three years. As I have said before this is now £800,000 worth of savings we did not need the council to find if we did not use them. Let us look at these figures another way, it works out at £22,222 per month or £5,128 per week.
The questions we should all ask are, “Is this value for money?” “Can we achieve these savings any other way?” “Why can’t our council officers find these savings?” and “is the use of consultants to find efficiency savings absolutely necessary?”.
Strategic Director Hilary Jones says this is value for money, and goes on to say about the recent reports of the use of consultants is misleading as out of £4.5 million spent on consultants over the last three years £3.5 million of this was paid by external funding including grants.
The problem here is that this is still public money, however I will look at the remainder which is £1 million which has been paid directly by our council, this actually works out at £27,777 per month or £6,410 per week.
Our council really do need to get to grips with the amount of money they are spending on consultants. I accept there may be a few occasions where it may be absolutely necessary to use consultants,
The use of consultants should only ever be used as a last resort, and before this is allowed it should be shown and proved in a very transparent way, why they can’t do the work themselves, exactly how much it will cost, and that they propose using consultants who offer the best value for money.
This should be done before it is agreed to use them, and finally this should be a decision taken by the full council, not the cabinet.
To reduce dramatically the use of consultants is a big start to reducing the budget and savings our council needs to find.