UK council defends consultancy spend

10 December 2009
10 December 2009 | David Matthews

Coventry City Council (CCC) has hit back at criticism of its consultancy bill.

Earlier this week local newspaper the Coventry Telegraph revealed the council spent £3.4 million on external support for 2009-10, £1 million more than last year.

But the council told SM that £1.2 million of this will be paid to consultants from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) to identify and help the authority to save £4.5 million by 2012–13.

PwC is reviewing spend on grounds maintenance, street services – including cleaning and road gritting – and business administration costs. It has already helped the authority to save £1.7 million on a VAT review.

CCC is committed to spending a further £500,000 with PwC, but part of its fees will be dependent on the cost reductions it delivers.

A spokesman for the local authority said: “Coventry City Council is using the expertise, skills and knowledge of PwC’s staff to help us make our services more efficient, effective and customer-focused.”

Review teams charged with making savings are mainly made up of council staff, but are assisted by small numbers of PwC advisers, he added.

Earlier this year Birmingham City Council defended its consultancy spend after racking up a bill of £67 million on external advisers. Glyn Evans, corporate director for business change at the council, said consultants were essential to its aim of saving more than £1 billion by 2016.

The news follows plans, set out in yesterday's pre-budget report, to halve the public sector’s consultancy bill. The government hopes the measure will help save £650 million over the next four years.
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