Doncaster Council spends over £15.7M on external consultants in four years

Doncaster Council spent £1.1 million in just six months on external employees to provide services they couldn't carry out on their own.

Monday, 23rd July 2018, 6:19 pm
Updated Monday, 23rd July 2018, 6:22 pm
Doncaster Council payed out thousands of pounds to external firms to help them with the delivery of the FARRRS link-road.

External firms were brought in to work on projects such as infrastructure planning, ICT roll-out, legal advice and enquiries into footpaths from January to June, 2017.

The spending has been criticised by a pressure group who said 'hard-pressed taxpayers' in Doncaster were paying for 'top talent' and external 'experts'.

But council bosses defended the figures and said spending on consultants over the last five-years had been less than one per cent of the council's budget.

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The local authority spent £15.7 million on external consultants from 2014 to 2017.

Regeneration and environment services spent the most at £471,000 which included £84,000 to law firm Grant Thornton for legal advice on aggregate tax levy for the FARRRS link-road, £54,000 to Mott MacDonald consultancy firm to plan the second phase of the link-road and £46,000 to Quarterbridge Project Management for 'consultancy support for markets'.

More than £47,000 was spent on 'project and quality management' for the 'delivery of the National College High Speed Rail, £12,000 to Mott MacDonald Ltd again to provide a report on HS2.

Finance and Corporate services spent £417,000 which included £317,000 on three ICT projects, £60,000 to Innovation Ltd for 'support for future council work' and £20,000 for Doncaster Chamber of Commerce for their help to bring the University Technical College to the borough.

Other expenditure included £33,000 on 'asset rationalisation appraisal and detailed fabric design' for Bentley Library, £27,000 to Wigan Council for a 'secondment of a programme manager', £5,000 to a barrister for 'advice' on devolution, £1,000 to a barrister for a 'footpath enquiry' and another £1,000 on a independent investigation to deal with complaints within adult social care.

John O'Connell, chief executive at the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: "We are often told that pay for council executives is so high because of the need to attract top business talent, but at the same time those 'experts' are spending taxpayers' money bringing in external consultants.

"It's entirely unfair on hard-pressed taxpayers in Doncaster to have to pay for both, and also speaks to the poor quality of procurement skills in local government."

Debbie Hogg, director of corporate resources for Doncaster Council, said: “We do use external support to delivery of large infrastructure, ICT or transformation projects where these skills and resources cannot be delivered by existing employees or where we do not have capacity.

"These projects are usually one-off and for a time limited period. Over the last five years spend on consultants has been less than one per cent of the overall council budget.”