P. 1
Local authority spending spotlight

Local authority spending spotlight

|Views: 10|Likes:
Published by Ryan Gallagher
Councils across the north have continued to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds hiring expensive consultants and producing promotional magazines despite slashing jobs and cutting frontline services.
Councils across the north have continued to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds hiring expensive consultants and producing promotional magazines despite slashing jobs and cutting frontline services.

More info:

Published by: Ryan Gallagher on May 28, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

Availability:

Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
download as PDF, TXT or read online from Scribd
See more
See less

12/02/2013

pdf

text

original

BITN 928_04,05 (News

)

18/5/12

13:34

Page 4

N E W S

Councils across the north have continued to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds hiring expensive consultants and producing promotional magazines despite slashing jobs and cutting frontline services. Official spending records for the first quarter of this year show councils in Manchester, Leeds, Wakefield and Sheffield spent a combined total of more than £2 million between January and March hiring outside firms for advice on topics ranging from energy conservation to computer systems. Of each of the councils to have released data for the year so far, Sheffield spent the most on consultants – at a figure of more than £1.2 million. Wakefield spent more than £600,000; Manchester City Council, £250,000; and Leeds, £170,000.

Local authority spending spotlight

Consultants
The £1.2 million spent by Sheffield included £270,000 in fees paid to consultants whose expertise is in business and management, £37,000 for consultants specialising in energy conservation and the environment, and £300,000 for consultants whose focus is on computer systems and software. The firm Ekos Consulting, which says it specialises in “economic and social research and development”, was popular among several councils, netting more than £35,000 in payments from Manchester City Council alone between January and March.

The royal visit to Manchester in March cost taxpayers £40,000. Photo: Heathcliff O'Malley/Daily Telegraph/PA Wire

Redundancies
The Big Issue in the North can also reveal that after forcing redundancies and chopping funding of voluntary groups by £18 million in 2011, Liverpool City Council spent £126,000 producing a glossy magazine distributed free across the city. And Salford City Council, which has announced more than 900 job cuts since 2011, spent a net total of almost £50,000 publishing its own magazine, Life in Salford. Campaign group the TaxPayers’ Alliance criticised the spending figures and called for council executives to maintain “moral authority” by taking reductions in pay. “Councils have to find
4

millions of savings in years to come but they have a choice over how they achieve them,” said Robert Oxley, campaign manager at the TaxPayers’ Alliance. Councillor David Lancaster, deputy mayor of Salford City Council, said its magazine was “the only way we can make sure we are getting information out to every household”.

Banquet
He added: “The focus of the magazine is on information for the community on issues such as health, facilities for families, crime prevention, schools, housing, etc. If we did not have the council magazine in which to promote these services, we would need to pay for advertising, which would cost significantly more.”

Renewed scrutiny has fallen on local authority spending since the comprehensive spending review in 2010, when it was announced that councils across the north would face a drop in up to 20 per cent of their funding as a result of a reduction in government grants. Earlier this month, Manchester City Council was criticised for its decision to spend almost £40,000 of taxpayers’ cash hosting a Diamond Jubilee visit by the Queen. The council built a community garden especially for the occasion and splashed out on a party and a banquet for around 200 guests, including the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh. Two weeks before the royal visit, in March, the council approved the second year of its

£170 million spending cuts programme as part of its 201213 budget. In 2011, a total of 2,000 job losses at the council were confirmed as it announced the details of the first year of its cuts plan.

‘Modest‘ cost
A council spokesperson said: “The overall cost of such a major event like this was modest – and, thanks to generous sponsorship and inkind support, about a quarter of what it should have been. “Like any leading city, Manchester has a budget for major events, which this was paid out of, so no money was diverted from elsewhere for the visit.”
RYAN GALLAGHER

THE BIG ISSUE IN THE NORTH · 21-27 MAY 2012

You're Reading a Free Preview

Download
scribd
/*********** DO NOT ALTER ANYTHING BELOW THIS LINE ! ************/ var s_code=s.t();if(s_code)document.write(s_code)//-->