Consultancy cost branded a ‘racket’ by trade unionists

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Use of highly-paid consultants which cost Sheffield Council £891,000 in a single month has been branded a ‘racket’ by trade union Unison.

But the bill for March 2013 – more than double the £375,000 monthly average in 2012 – has been defended by cabinet member for finance, Coun Bryan Lodge,

Coun Lodge said the bill is mainly for external contractors providing specialist services, such as architects and engineers which the council does not employ in-house.

Unison’s head of local government, Chris Jenkinson, said: “In Sheffield management consultants have been paid almost £1 million in March this year alone – money which should be invested in jobs and services for the communities which rely on them.

“Unison in Yorkshire and Humberside is gathering information which shows public bodies in local government and the NHS are pumping well over £40 million a year into these unaccountable private companies.

He added: “UNISON is on record as describing consultancy arrangements as a ‘racket’.”

But Coun Lodge said: “What alternative is the union proposing? There are certain functions we have to provide - and £300,000 of the March bill was on a scheme to help businesses create jobs.”