Scots councils spend £13m on private consultants

ALMOST £13 million has been spent on private consultants by Scottish councils in the past 15 months.

Edinburgh City Council was found to be one of the worst offenders. Picture: Scott Louden

Figures obtained through a Freedom of Information request showed that Edinburgh City Council is the worst offender, doling out more than £5.1m to consulting firms.

Fife Council spent £2.8m outsourcing work, whilst Glasgow and Aberdeen Councils both handed out more than £1.3m of taxpayers’ money to consultants.

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Other big spenders included Renfrewshire Council, who spent £589,204 on consultants and Dundee which handed over £216,225.

East Dunbartonshire was the only council in Scotland to say it spent no public money on consultants.

The revelation has sparked outrage as many local authorities have recently scheduled massive job cuts to plug their funding black holes.

Edinburgh Council announced in January that they would cut 1,200 jobs over the next three years to make savings of £138m.

The majority of their £5,125,191 bill was split between three major consultancy firms: Deloitte Consulting, PwC (corr) and Ernst & Young.

Fife Council announced late last year that they would be cutting 700 jobs.

But the documents revealed that their officials paid £2.8m to management and IT firm Capgemini.

A spokesman for TaxPayer Scotland said: “Taxpayers deserve to know what these consultants are being employed to do.

“These are huge sums and yet we remain in the dark about what services they’re providing and that lack of transparency is unacceptable.

“It is impossible for taxpayers to judge whether they’re receiving value for money from these individuals when there is such lacklustre information available.”

An Edinburgh Council spokesman said all such spending was “closely monitored to ensure that we get the best value for Edinburgh’s taxpayers”.

He added: “We assess when it is necessary to engage external professionals to augment the skills and capacity of our own staff, who in turn benefit from the specialist knowledge being brought in-house.

“We will continue to look closely at expenditure on engaging external professionals and consultants to ensure that it adds significant value to the council’s own work.”

Fife Council’s head of IT, Charlie Anderson, said that the Capgemini were “working in partnership with the council to deliver our new financial system” which will “transform our business processes.”