Taxpayers fork out £3million for experts

MORE than £3million of taxpayer's money has been spent on private consultants in less than a year, it can be revealed.Outside experts on a range of issues from incineration to efficiency and the Suffolk schools shake-up have been drafted in to give their advice to Suffolk County council.

MORE than £3million of taxpayer's money has been spent on private consultants in less than a year, it can be revealed.

Outside experts on a range of issues from incineration to efficiency and the Suffolk schools shake-up have been drafted in to give their advice to Suffolk County council.

The spending has been slammed by Suffolk's Labour Group, which claimed the Conservative-controlled authority was guilty of an “appalling waste” of resources.

Defending their spending, the council leader and his deputy said they were delivering value for money and the amount was just a small proportion of their overall budget.


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But Kevan Lim, deputy leader of the Suffolk Labour Group, said: “This appalling waste of money is another example of the kind of inefficiency that is leading to cuts in vital county council services.

“People in Suffolk will be rightly angry that, at a time of large council tax rises and continuing cuts in vital services for the elderly and vulnerable, millions of pounds are being poured into the pockets of consultants.”

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He added the council had an array of talented staff at its disposal and the consultancy spending was excessive and a waste of taxpayers' money.

He said he would be personally calling for a break-down of the spending today.

But Jeremy Pembroke, Suffolk County Council leader, said: “If the question is 'are we (the taxpayers) getting good value for money by spending £3million?' I would say yes.

“There are some big, substantial programmes we have got to run.

“We can do this one of two ways. We can take people on and put them on the payroll and we cannot make them redundant. Or is it better to employ people from outside and pay them a fee and then say goodnight?

“At the end of the day we are the only council in the east of England that has four stars and no other county has come in with a lower council tax rise than us at 3.75 per cent - that is crucial. If we are the best performing and the lowest council tax I would suggest we are giving value for money and that is what I promised and I would say we have delivered that.”

He said the biggest part of that spending was going on the accountancy specialist KPMG, which was being paid to help advise the council how to save £150million over six years - which has been labelled the Securing the Future Project. Mr Pembroke said the council had already made £55million in savings - which he said showed employing them was justified.

Jane Storey, deputy leader of the council and portfolio holder for resource management and transformation, said: “That was an estimated amount from the finance team - we will not know until the end of the financial year - but you have to think it is only 0.3pc of what we spend in a year. If you earn £25,000 a year, it would be the equivalent of spending £7.50.”

n. Do you think the council can justify spending this much? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or email starletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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