Council pays fortune for consultants who are drafted in to help save money

Dorset County Council

Dorset County Council

First published in News
Last updated
Dorset Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Reporter

DORSET County Council has spent hundreds of thousands of pounds on consultants to advise it how to save money. It more than doubled its bill for external experts in the first three months of this year.

Spending on temporary staff during January to March was £360,000 more than the same period in 2013.

And the bill for ‘consultancy and self-employed workers’ excluding the Dorset Waste Partnership has jumped from £366,500 in Quarter Three to £748,000 in Quarter Four.

The council says it is ‘spending to save’ as it enlists the help of experts to hone cost-cutting measures.

Some of the money was spent on advisers for the Better Together business plan, a shake-up of adult social care, and the Forward Together Programme, a bid to save millions over the next few years.

Corporate resources director Paul Kent said: “The point of this expenditure is to try to engage experts in the field to help us deliver savings in the future.

“When you think of what we spend in total on employment, the bill for consultancy and agency staff is only a fraction of that; something like four per cent.

“Expenditure on consultancy now is intended to save us money in the long-term.

“If you spend one-off now and we get £6million to £7million per annum savings in the future, that’s a really good investment.

“We get the money we spent back very quickly.”

He added that some of the bills, such as those for the Better Together consultancy, were funded by central government.

The Non-Directly Employed Contract Workforce Quarter Four report, which will go before councillors today says: “Spending on consultancy and related staff over the year is a little higher than in the previous year.

“In common with the previous year, there is a peak at year end reflecting the processing and accrual of invoices in March to account for work in the correct year.

“The increase is also partly attributable to resources needed to support transformation.”

But critics say it is not good enough.

Cllr Janet Dover said: “Agency staff is one thing because they are invariably covering for sickness and so there’s some justification. But spending so much money on consultants is just unbelievable.

“In this day and age when we are trying to save money, they are spending all that money on consultancy in an attempt to save money – I don’t think people who pay council tax would understand the rationale for that.”

The overall bill for agency, consultancy and self-employed workers works out at £12,754 a day.

Comments (24)

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7:56am Tue 10 Jun 14

woodsedge says...

Flavour of expert consultants in child care, one team "culled" from 8 to 6 employee with only one fully qualified social worker, two managers who are not allowed to case hold. Unfortunately we will end up with another baby P and a witch hunt for social workers. The 748k spent on consultants would pay for approximately 25 f/t social workers.
Flavour of expert consultants in child care, one team "culled" from 8 to 6 employee with only one fully qualified social worker, two managers who are not allowed to case hold. Unfortunately we will end up with another baby P and a witch hunt for social workers. The 748k spent on consultants would pay for approximately 25 f/t social workers. woodsedge
  • Score: -5

8:07am Tue 10 Jun 14

D.shoreditch says...

Our civil service to stupid to know how to save money. Who would have guessed. They seem well qualified in wasting it on every P.C agenda campaign going though.
Our civil service to stupid to know how to save money. Who would have guessed. They seem well qualified in wasting it on every P.C agenda campaign going though. D.shoreditch
  • Score: 13

8:34am Tue 10 Jun 14

marabout says...

Cllr Janet Dover said: “Agency staff is one thing because they are invariably covering for sickness and so there’s some justification. But spending so much money on consultants is just unbelievable.

“In this day and age when we are trying to save money, they are spending all that money on consultancy in an attempt to save money – I don’t think people who pay council tax would understand the rationale for that.”



I get it. Consultants are cheap labour. No sick pay. No holiday allowance. No pension.
Cllr Janet Dover said: “Agency staff is one thing because they are invariably covering for sickness and so there’s some justification. But spending so much money on consultants is just unbelievable. “In this day and age when we are trying to save money, they are spending all that money on consultancy in an attempt to save money – I don’t think people who pay council tax would understand the rationale for that.” I get it. Consultants are cheap labour. No sick pay. No holiday allowance. No pension. marabout
  • Score: 6

9:50am Tue 10 Jun 14

K9 says...

Turkeys dont' vote for Christmas. You need to bring in outside help that aren't members of the same union that will protest about the cuts.
Turkeys dont' vote for Christmas. You need to bring in outside help that aren't members of the same union that will protest about the cuts. K9
  • Score: 9

10:19am Tue 10 Jun 14

cj07589 says...

Love the irony, spending more money to try and save money. Bunch of incompetent muppets, of course council taxes will raise again next year.
Love the irony, spending more money to try and save money. Bunch of incompetent muppets, of course council taxes will raise again next year. cj07589
  • Score: 7

12:14pm Tue 10 Jun 14

ViewPoyntz says...

As stated, this is a tiny fraction of what DCC spends. Pretty well all private organisations employ consultants and regard them as good value.
As stated, this is a tiny fraction of what DCC spends. Pretty well all private organisations employ consultants and regard them as good value. ViewPoyntz
  • Score: -3

12:28pm Tue 10 Jun 14

annotater says...

A bit obvious but why not stop employing these "consultants" and use a bit of common sense with a sprinkle of local opinion?
A bit obvious but why not stop employing these "consultants" and use a bit of common sense with a sprinkle of local opinion? annotater
  • Score: 7

12:35pm Tue 10 Jun 14

February1948 says...

Could someone explain to a simple soul like me, why, when justifying the salaries paid to the highest-band DCC employees, the response is that "we need to pay these salaries to attract the best people". If they are employing the best people, then why aren't the best people bright enough to do the work of the consultants?
Is it me?
Could someone explain to a simple soul like me, why, when justifying the salaries paid to the highest-band DCC employees, the response is that "we need to pay these salaries to attract the best people". If they are employing the best people, then why aren't the best people bright enough to do the work of the consultants? Is it me? February1948
  • Score: 18

1:39pm Tue 10 Jun 14

cj07589 says...

ViewPoyntz wrote:
As stated, this is a tiny fraction of what DCC spends. Pretty well all private organisations employ consultants and regard them as good value.
1/Irrespective of whether you consider it to be a small proportion of funding, it still represents a valid opportunity for cost analysis and cost reduction.

2/Successful companies only use external consultants where they ADD value or reduce capital expenditure that can not be relised within the businesses current resourcing.

There is a considerable difference in thinking you need a consultant in oppose to requiring a consultant because there is valid business case to fund it because of the benefits it returns back.
So in this particular instance the council has epically failed, when can we expect the relevant director/executive to take any responsibility for this **** up?..
[quote][p][bold]ViewPoyntz[/bold] wrote: As stated, this is a tiny fraction of what DCC spends. Pretty well all private organisations employ consultants and regard them as good value.[/p][/quote]1/Irrespective of whether you consider it to be a small proportion of funding, it still represents a valid opportunity for cost analysis and cost reduction. 2/Successful companies only use external consultants where they ADD value or reduce capital expenditure that can not be relised within the businesses current resourcing. There is a considerable difference in thinking you need a consultant in oppose to requiring a consultant because there is valid business case to fund it because of the benefits it returns back. So in this particular instance the council has epically failed, when can we expect the relevant director/executive to take any responsibility for this **** up?.. cj07589
  • Score: 5

2:06pm Tue 10 Jun 14

Dorset stuff says...

Non story, nothing new, nothing gained, another desperate FOI by the Echo to stir the locals up to get the pitch forks out. Consultants are used all the time by private and public sectors, it is normal practice and it can generate millions of savings. How about the Echo prints a story about how the Council is trying to deliver front line services with an ever reducing budget, but then that would not sell newspaper would it, not enough "Chaos".
Non story, nothing new, nothing gained, another desperate FOI by the Echo to stir the locals up to get the pitch forks out. Consultants are used all the time by private and public sectors, it is normal practice and it can generate millions of savings. How about the Echo prints a story about how the Council is trying to deliver front line services with an ever reducing budget, but then that would not sell newspaper would it, not enough "Chaos". Dorset stuff
  • Score: 3

3:47pm Tue 10 Jun 14

leo210856 says...

As an outsider looking in it I clear that most central or local government organisations need expert help to cut down on waste and despite what people think it is doubtful that they already employ people skilled in process re engineering (google lean and process improvement)The are where they clearly need significant help

I had a discussion some weeks ago with a senior member of staff in DCC regarding something that was sent to me.The official told me it shouldn't have been sent. When he looked deeper into the matter it seemed there was no defined procedure, no agreed process in place. This meant the staff in effect did what they thought had to be done and this entailed several steps that weren't required. Steps that were costly in both man power and hard costs in both the production of correspondence and sending it out via the postal system.
So the staff did it the way they though it had to be done, the management had no idea what was actually being done , there was no process in place to show what needed to be done and as a consequence no valid QA/QC was carried out or indeed was anyone accountable for the waste.
It seems DCC/Central Government/NHS/Local Government have little idea how to make savings other that to either cut frontline staff or frontline services. They just tinker around the edges without daring to tackle the real areas of waste namely those tasks that aren't required so add little or no value to service delivery
As an outsider looking in it I clear that most central or local government organisations need expert help to cut down on waste and despite what people think it is doubtful that they already employ people skilled in process re engineering (google lean and process improvement)The are where they clearly need significant help I had a discussion some weeks ago with a senior member of staff in DCC regarding something that was sent to me.The official told me it shouldn't have been sent. When he looked deeper into the matter it seemed there was no defined procedure, no agreed process in place. This meant the staff in effect did what they thought had to be done and this entailed several steps that weren't required. Steps that were costly in both man power and hard costs in both the production of correspondence and sending it out via the postal system. So the staff did it the way they though it had to be done, the management had no idea what was actually being done , there was no process in place to show what needed to be done and as a consequence no valid QA/QC was carried out or indeed was anyone accountable for the waste. It seems DCC/Central Government/NHS/Local Government have little idea how to make savings other that to either cut frontline staff or frontline services. They just tinker around the edges without daring to tackle the real areas of waste namely those tasks that aren't required so add little or no value to service delivery leo210856
  • Score: 7

3:48pm Tue 10 Jun 14

Laadeeda says...

Nothing learned from past experiences then?

Wasn't this 'consultants' issue raised a few years ago around the time of the Icelandic bank crisis?
Nothing learned from past experiences then? Wasn't this 'consultants' issue raised a few years ago around the time of the Icelandic bank crisis? Laadeeda
  • Score: -3

5:24pm Tue 10 Jun 14

La Vigneron says...

February1948 wrote:
Could someone explain to a simple soul like me, why, when justifying the salaries paid to the highest-band DCC employees, the response is that "we need to pay these salaries to attract the best people". If they are employing the best people, then why aren't the best people bright enough to do the work of the consultants?
Is it me?
It's the same old tired nonsense that is trotted out by banks, government agencies and other assorted riff raff.
No one is indispensable, except in their own opinion; unfortunately their own opinion is grossly exaggerated.
However, the local people vote for these people with their inflated egos and as one philosopher once said, the populace get the government they deserve.
[quote][p][bold]February1948[/bold] wrote: Could someone explain to a simple soul like me, why, when justifying the salaries paid to the highest-band DCC employees, the response is that "we need to pay these salaries to attract the best people". If they are employing the best people, then why aren't the best people bright enough to do the work of the consultants? Is it me?[/p][/quote]It's the same old tired nonsense that is trotted out by banks, government agencies and other assorted riff raff. No one is indispensable, except in their own opinion; unfortunately their own opinion is grossly exaggerated. However, the local people vote for these people with their inflated egos and as one philosopher once said, the populace get the government they deserve. La Vigneron
  • Score: 2

7:11pm Tue 10 Jun 14

wurzelbasher says...

What many people don't realise is the amount of money leaving the country in EU and Foreign Aid payments and yet we are still borrowing money in order to do so. There is something seriously wrong there but we are all having to "go without" in order to let that happen! If all of that money stayed in the country we wouldn't need money-saving consultants; there would be plenty to go around!
What many people don't realise is the amount of money leaving the country in EU and Foreign Aid payments and yet we are still borrowing money in order to do so. There is something seriously wrong there but we are all having to "go without" in order to let that happen! If all of that money stayed in the country we wouldn't need money-saving consultants; there would be plenty to go around! wurzelbasher
  • Score: 7

7:50pm Tue 10 Jun 14

Bert Fry says...

wurzelbasher wrote:
What many people don't realise is the amount of money leaving the country in EU and Foreign Aid payments and yet we are still borrowing money in order to do so. There is something seriously wrong there but we are all having to "go without" in order to let that happen! If all of that money stayed in the country we wouldn't need money-saving consultants; there would be plenty to go around!
I pay interest a hefty mortgage but still have a standing order to a charity. By your logic anyone with a mortgage shouldn't give money to those worse off than themselves until they no longer pay interest themselves. Not a very Christian or a very British attitude is it.
[quote][p][bold]wurzelbasher[/bold] wrote: What many people don't realise is the amount of money leaving the country in EU and Foreign Aid payments and yet we are still borrowing money in order to do so. There is something seriously wrong there but we are all having to "go without" in order to let that happen! If all of that money stayed in the country we wouldn't need money-saving consultants; there would be plenty to go around![/p][/quote]I pay interest a hefty mortgage but still have a standing order to a charity. By your logic anyone with a mortgage shouldn't give money to those worse off than themselves until they no longer pay interest themselves. Not a very Christian or a very British attitude is it. Bert Fry
  • Score: -5

8:50pm Tue 10 Jun 14

breamoreboy says...

D.shoreditch wrote:
Our civil service to stupid to know how to save money. Who would have guessed. They seem well qualified in wasting it on every P.C agenda campaign going though.
I've experienced the same thing in industry. The management ask the staff. The staff tell them what to do. The management don't believe it. The consultants are called in and recommend exactly the same as the staff. At least the waste was shareholders' money, not the taxpayers'.
[quote][p][bold]D.shoreditch[/bold] wrote: Our civil service to stupid to know how to save money. Who would have guessed. They seem well qualified in wasting it on every P.C agenda campaign going though.[/p][/quote]I've experienced the same thing in industry. The management ask the staff. The staff tell them what to do. The management don't believe it. The consultants are called in and recommend exactly the same as the staff. At least the waste was shareholders' money, not the taxpayers'. breamoreboy
  • Score: 3

8:53pm Tue 10 Jun 14

D.shoreditch says...

breamoreboy wrote:
D.shoreditch wrote:
Our civil service to stupid to know how to save money. Who would have guessed. They seem well qualified in wasting it on every P.C agenda campaign going though.
I've experienced the same thing in industry. The management ask the staff. The staff tell them what to do. The management don't believe it. The consultants are called in and recommend exactly the same as the staff. At least the waste was shareholders' money, not the taxpayers'.
They was only following orders......
[quote][p][bold]breamoreboy[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]D.shoreditch[/bold] wrote: Our civil service to stupid to know how to save money. Who would have guessed. They seem well qualified in wasting it on every P.C agenda campaign going though.[/p][/quote]I've experienced the same thing in industry. The management ask the staff. The staff tell them what to do. The management don't believe it. The consultants are called in and recommend exactly the same as the staff. At least the waste was shareholders' money, not the taxpayers'.[/p][/quote]They was only following orders...... D.shoreditch
  • Score: 2

8:53pm Tue 10 Jun 14

breamoreboy says...

marabout wrote:
Cllr Janet Dover said: “Agency staff is one thing because they are invariably covering for sickness and so there’s some justification. But spending so much money on consultants is just unbelievable.

“In this day and age when we are trying to save money, they are spending all that money on consultancy in an attempt to save money – I don’t think people who pay council tax would understand the rationale for that.”



I get it. Consultants are cheap labour. No sick pay. No holiday allowance. No pension.
What really sickens me is that a lot of jobs with DCC are for internal applicants only, which includes agency staff or consultants.
[quote][p][bold]marabout[/bold] wrote: Cllr Janet Dover said: “Agency staff is one thing because they are invariably covering for sickness and so there’s some justification. But spending so much money on consultants is just unbelievable. “In this day and age when we are trying to save money, they are spending all that money on consultancy in an attempt to save money – I don’t think people who pay council tax would understand the rationale for that.” I get it. Consultants are cheap labour. No sick pay. No holiday allowance. No pension.[/p][/quote]What really sickens me is that a lot of jobs with DCC are for internal applicants only, which includes agency staff or consultants. breamoreboy
  • Score: -2

8:57pm Tue 10 Jun 14

breamoreboy says...

February1948 wrote:
Could someone explain to a simple soul like me, why, when justifying the salaries paid to the highest-band DCC employees, the response is that "we need to pay these salaries to attract the best people". If they are employing the best people, then why aren't the best people bright enough to do the work of the consultants?
Is it me?
It has to be you as it couldn't possibly be the council, they never, ever make mistakes, do they? :-)
[quote][p][bold]February1948[/bold] wrote: Could someone explain to a simple soul like me, why, when justifying the salaries paid to the highest-band DCC employees, the response is that "we need to pay these salaries to attract the best people". If they are employing the best people, then why aren't the best people bright enough to do the work of the consultants? Is it me?[/p][/quote]It has to be you as it couldn't possibly be the council, they never, ever make mistakes, do they? :-) breamoreboy
  • Score: 3

9:09pm Tue 10 Jun 14

breamoreboy says...

D.shoreditch wrote:
breamoreboy wrote:
D.shoreditch wrote:
Our civil service to stupid to know how to save money. Who would have guessed. They seem well qualified in wasting it on every P.C agenda campaign going though.
I've experienced the same thing in industry. The management ask the staff. The staff tell them what to do. The management don't believe it. The consultants are called in and recommend exactly the same as the staff. At least the waste was shareholders' money, not the taxpayers'.
They was only following orders......
Nail struck firmly on head.
[quote][p][bold]D.shoreditch[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]breamoreboy[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]D.shoreditch[/bold] wrote: Our civil service to stupid to know how to save money. Who would have guessed. They seem well qualified in wasting it on every P.C agenda campaign going though.[/p][/quote]I've experienced the same thing in industry. The management ask the staff. The staff tell them what to do. The management don't believe it. The consultants are called in and recommend exactly the same as the staff. At least the waste was shareholders' money, not the taxpayers'.[/p][/quote]They was only following orders......[/p][/quote]Nail struck firmly on head. breamoreboy
  • Score: -1

9:24pm Tue 10 Jun 14

D.shoreditch says...

breamoreboy wrote:
D.shoreditch wrote:
breamoreboy wrote:
D.shoreditch wrote:
Our civil service to stupid to know how to save money. Who would have guessed. They seem well qualified in wasting it on every P.C agenda campaign going though.
I've experienced the same thing in industry. The management ask the staff. The staff tell them what to do. The management don't believe it. The consultants are called in and recommend exactly the same as the staff. At least the waste was shareholders' money, not the taxpayers'.
They was only following orders......
Nail struck firmly on head.
Would you make the same allowances for Nazi's claiming tge same ?

Did anyone else notice the comment censored by the Echo about child abuse by council social servicrs?
[quote][p][bold]breamoreboy[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]D.shoreditch[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]breamoreboy[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]D.shoreditch[/bold] wrote: Our civil service to stupid to know how to save money. Who would have guessed. They seem well qualified in wasting it on every P.C agenda campaign going though.[/p][/quote]I've experienced the same thing in industry. The management ask the staff. The staff tell them what to do. The management don't believe it. The consultants are called in and recommend exactly the same as the staff. At least the waste was shareholders' money, not the taxpayers'.[/p][/quote]They was only following orders......[/p][/quote]Nail struck firmly on head.[/p][/quote]Would you make the same allowances for Nazi's claiming tge same ? Did anyone else notice the comment censored by the Echo about child abuse by council social servicrs? D.shoreditch
  • Score: 5

8:09am Wed 11 Jun 14

JamesYoung says...

Usual Echo obfuscation. It's really not clear what number is what, but it seems the bill for ALL non employed staff is around 4%. So that will include agency staff covering sickness, holiday and recruitment as well as high paid consultants.
4% is a pretty small amount in comparison to most organisations that I've worked in. There are around 10,000 staff in DCC. Each one of them spends around 10% of the year on holiday, plus, of course, the sick rate is about 4 days per year. So a 4% agency cost to cover a 10-12% holiday/sick commitment isn't really anything to write home about.
Usual Echo obfuscation. It's really not clear what number is what, but it seems the bill for ALL non employed staff is around 4%. So that will include agency staff covering sickness, holiday and recruitment as well as high paid consultants. 4% is a pretty small amount in comparison to most organisations that I've worked in. There are around 10,000 staff in DCC. Each one of them spends around 10% of the year on holiday, plus, of course, the sick rate is about 4 days per year. So a 4% agency cost to cover a 10-12% holiday/sick commitment isn't really anything to write home about. JamesYoung
  • Score: 5

5:54pm Wed 11 Jun 14

John New says...

A consultant should be neutral therefore able to advise objectively. They can also provide a short term job skill where a full time employee couldn't be justified. astaff member will tend to have a bias towards self protection of the unit they work in whether that is in industry or government, hence use of external advisors. Where there is often an issue is the ridiculous expectation of expenses by consultants bulking up costs. Used properly, rather than politically, they shouldn't be an issue.
A consultant should be neutral therefore able to advise objectively. They can also provide a short term job skill where a full time employee couldn't be justified. astaff member will tend to have a bias towards self protection of the unit they work in whether that is in industry or government, hence use of external advisors. Where there is often an issue is the ridiculous expectation of expenses by consultants bulking up costs. Used properly, rather than politically, they shouldn't be an issue. John New
  • Score: 1

7:51am Thu 12 Jun 14

cj07589 says...

Bert Fry wrote:
wurzelbasher wrote:
What many people don't realise is the amount of money leaving the country in EU and Foreign Aid payments and yet we are still borrowing money in order to do so. There is something seriously wrong there but we are all having to "go without" in order to let that happen! If all of that money stayed in the country we wouldn't need money-saving consultants; there would be plenty to go around!
I pay interest a hefty mortgage but still have a standing order to a charity. By your logic anyone with a mortgage shouldn't give money to those worse off than themselves until they no longer pay interest themselves. Not a very Christian or a very British attitude is it.
Who are you to judge where individuals choose to put their hard earnt money? Thankfully we still live in a secular democracy free from religious doctrine are their faceted forms of brainwashing & guilt traps. Until the British Government stops financing despots, dictators and corrupt regimes around the world with my tax contributions with impunity and unaccountability I will continue to look after my family first and foremost. Please refrain from peddling the Christian ego guilt trip nonsense and last time I checked what defines a British attitude is changing rapidly due to the lie/lib/con multicultural social engineering agenda.
[quote][p][bold]Bert Fry[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]wurzelbasher[/bold] wrote: What many people don't realise is the amount of money leaving the country in EU and Foreign Aid payments and yet we are still borrowing money in order to do so. There is something seriously wrong there but we are all having to "go without" in order to let that happen! If all of that money stayed in the country we wouldn't need money-saving consultants; there would be plenty to go around![/p][/quote]I pay interest a hefty mortgage but still have a standing order to a charity. By your logic anyone with a mortgage shouldn't give money to those worse off than themselves until they no longer pay interest themselves. Not a very Christian or a very British attitude is it.[/p][/quote]Who are you to judge where individuals choose to put their hard earnt money? Thankfully we still live in a secular democracy free from religious doctrine are their faceted forms of brainwashing & guilt traps. Until the British Government stops financing despots, dictators and corrupt regimes around the world with my tax contributions with impunity and unaccountability I will continue to look after my family first and foremost. Please refrain from peddling the Christian ego guilt trip nonsense and last time I checked what defines a British attitude is changing rapidly due to the lie/lib/con multicultural social engineering agenda. cj07589
  • Score: 1

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