Consultancy pledge

NEWS: News.
NEWS: News.
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A CRACKDOWN on the use of highly-paid consultants has been announced by Sheffield’s ruling Labour councillors.

The move is being made after The Star revealed £4.7 million was spent on consultants over 12 months - one of whom was paid £800 a day.

In the past, officers in different departments have had the power to hire consultants without informing ruling councillors - as long as they could make a ‘business case’.

Coun Bryan Lodge, cabinet member for finance, responded after trade union leaders and community representatives around Sheffield branded the consultants’ fees ‘scandalous’ at a time when libraries, leisure centres and the Don Valley Stadium are under threat of closure due to £50 million of cuts in 2013-14.

Coun Lodge said: “I have been speaking to the chief executive, John Mothersole, and said I want to see arrangements in place so no consultant is appointed without the cabinet being made aware first, apart from run-of-the-mill posts such as supply teachers in schools.

“I agree some consultants’ fees sound high, but that has to be set against their expertise and the going rate.

“We need to implement closer scrutiny of these posts - I am aware the £800-a-day consultant has worked for the council on numerous occasions since April 2011, when the Liberal Democrats were still in charge.”

Coun Lodge added he also wants the ruling cabinet to scrutinise appointment of highly-paid permanent staff.

He said: “We are currently looking at making sure any person on a salary of over £40,000 a year is approved by cabinet members.”

Liberal Democrat finance spokesman Coun Simon Clement-Jones said: “Bryan Lodge should impose a cap on consultants’ fees immediately. Why have Labour only taken an interest once the problem has been exposed by ourselves and The Star?”