Dundee City Council £600,000 consulting spend revealed

11 January 2019 Consultancy.uk 2 min. read
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Dundee City Council has become the latest local authority to be scrutinised for its large consulting spend, following a freedom of information request. The Scottish city put more than £600,000 toward consulting services, with more than half being paid to a single firm for advisory work on waste incineration to power local homes.

A succession of local councils have come under fire for their consulting spending in the UK. The local authority of St Albans has routinely been criticised for its £1.2 million consulting budget, while just over a year ago Cornwall’s council was castigated for spending some £750,000 on a single report into the benefits of tourism in the area.

Now, figures obtained via freedom of information requests have revealed that Dundee City Council spent a total of £630,966 on external advisers in the last three years. The figures, published by Dundee’s Evening Telegraph, also found that more than half was paid to a single firm, SLR Consulting, which advised the council on recycling and waste incineration for use in heating and powering local homes. Ultimately, SLR billed the council £329,000 for its 36 engagements between April 2015 and November 2018.

Dundee City Council £600,000 consulting spend revealed

Other firms which profited from the council’s contracts were next highest-paid firm PTS Consulting Partners, which was paid £57,558 for IT advice, and SID Asset Management, which received £49,625 for “asset management database services.” As part of the same freedom of information request, Dundee City Council also broke down where the money went. £77,502 was spent on neighbourhood services, while up to £40,000 was put into consulting on social work.

Offering a relatively standard justification for the use of consultants in public sector work, a spokesman for Dundee City Council told the press, “Consultants are used when their expertise is not available within the council. Their use is closely monitored to ensure best value for council tax payers.”

However, with Dundonians having faced a hike in council tax bills and car parking charges over the past year, as the city council looked to cut around £15 million from its budget, the news will be unlikely to please many residents. With council job losses now reportedly on the cards for Dundee, meanwhile, the potential for having to pay consultants to paper the cracks in terms of the authority’s in-house knowledge looks likely to increase in the coming year. SNP Council Leader John Alexander said he would be “lying” if he claimed service provision in the city could continue at today’s levels, with no easy efficiencies to be made.