Freedom of Information request reveals Harrow Borough Council spent more than £4million on consultants

Harrow Times: Councillor James Bond was "astonished" when he saw how much Harrow Borough Council had spent on consultants Councillor James Bond was "astonished" when he saw how much Harrow Borough Council had spent on consultants

A councillor is "appalled" that Harrow Borough Council has spent more than £4 million on consultants in just over two years, while vital services and community groups faced cuts.

Figures obtained by Councillor James Bond show rises each year as the authority spent £1.4 million in 2010/2011, £1.75 million in 2011/2012 and almost £1 million in the first five months of the current financial year.

The largest amounts this year were chalked up by the council's children’s services department, which spent £357,126 and the community and environment department, with £293,562.

In total, Cllr Bond's Freedom of Information request revealed that £4,078,040 was spent between May 2010 and September 2012.

The Independent councillor, who represents Headstone North, contrasted the increasing amount spent on consultants with cuts of more than £650,000 from the council's street cleaning, rubbish collection and park maintenance budget.

Cllr Bond said the department spent £300,000 on external advice in 20 weeks.

He said: “I am astonished and appalled that in a little over two years they have managed to spend so much money.

“Harrow doesn’t need to spend money to get people to tell us how to cut the grass or empty the bins."

Cllr Bond believes employing consultants is like paying someone to tell you how to do your job and thinks the council should stop spending so much on outside advice.

He also drew attention to cuts faced by community groups, saying the money should be spent on Harrow’s voluntary sector, citing the Citizens Advice Bureau, which will close its face-to-face advice service on March 20 because of budget cuts.

Cllr Bond added: “It is absolutely disgraceful that they council is letting the CAB take a step backwards just when people need it most.

“Just a fraction of that money could save the service.”

Jon Turner, the council’s divisional director for HR, said the authority only employs consultants when it is absolutely necessary and will deliver real benefit.

He said: “Councils across the country use consultants when particular skills, knowledge or expertise are required from outside the local authority. Harrow Council will only employ consultants when it is absolutely necessary and will deliver real benefit.

“By 2015 we will have made savings of £75million to the council’s controllable budget. We have delivered these savings by reducing the number and pay of senior managers whilst protecting the lowest paid staff, making efficiencies in all departments, adopting a more commercial approach, improving procurement to get the most out of contracts and streamlining the way we make decisions.”

Comments (11)

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4:44pm Wed 27 Feb 13

starbright says...

Well done Cllr Bond for unearthing this and bringing it to everyone's attention. It shows that there could be inadequacies with some Council officers if they have to rely on outside consultants. It is disturbing just how much money Harrow Council waste, and perhaps a full transparent financial audit is what is needed?
Well done Cllr Bond for unearthing this and bringing it to everyone's attention. It shows that there could be inadequacies with some Council officers if they have to rely on outside consultants. It is disturbing just how much money Harrow Council waste, and perhaps a full transparent financial audit is what is needed? starbright
  • Score: 0

4:45pm Wed 27 Feb 13

starbright says...

Well done Cllr Bond for unearthing this and bringing it to everyone's attention. It shows that there could be inadequacies with some Council officers if they have to rely on outside consultants. It is disturbing just how much money Harrow Council waste, and perhaps a full transparent financial audit is what is needed?
Well done Cllr Bond for unearthing this and bringing it to everyone's attention. It shows that there could be inadequacies with some Council officers if they have to rely on outside consultants. It is disturbing just how much money Harrow Council waste, and perhaps a full transparent financial audit is what is needed? starbright
  • Score: 0

8:21am Thu 28 Feb 13

Sue Anderson says...

The council's acccounts are audited by independent external auditors every year and the accounts are then put on public display for about a month (the dates are advertised in the local papers)is . The Government Audit and Risk Management Committee then studies the accounts and has to be satisfied of their accuracy before they are agreed.

Every quarter a report on council spending comes to Cabinet to make sure that everything is on track. In addition the Performance and Finance Scrutiny Committee which I chair studies these quarterly reports and holds officers and Portfolio Holders to account. These papers are available to the public on the website and meetings of Cabinet and the committees I have mentioned are held in public.In addition any councillor who wishes to do so may come and backbench on my committee or the Government Audit and Risk Management Committee. Councillor Osborn and Councillor Wright have both back benched on Perfomance and Finance and made useful contributions to debate. If Councillor Bond had contacted Councillor Phillips, the chair of the Government Audit and Risk Management committee or me about his concerns we could have investigated them - hopefully saving council tax payers the expense of a Freedom of Information request
The council's acccounts are audited by independent external auditors every year and the accounts are then put on public display for about a month (the dates are advertised in the local papers)is . The Government Audit and Risk Management Committee then studies the accounts and has to be satisfied of their accuracy before they are agreed. Every quarter a report on council spending comes to Cabinet to make sure that everything is on track. In addition the Performance and Finance Scrutiny Committee which I chair studies these quarterly reports and holds officers and Portfolio Holders to account. These papers are available to the public on the website and meetings of Cabinet and the committees I have mentioned are held in public.In addition any councillor who wishes to do so may come and backbench on my committee or the Government Audit and Risk Management Committee. Councillor Osborn and Councillor Wright have both back benched on Perfomance and Finance and made useful contributions to debate. If Councillor Bond had contacted Councillor Phillips, the chair of the Government Audit and Risk Management committee or me about his concerns we could have investigated them - hopefully saving council tax payers the expense of a Freedom of Information request Sue Anderson
  • Score: 0

12:07pm Thu 28 Feb 13

harrow resident says...

Yes well done Cllr Bond.
Well done starbright.
Sue Anderson..wake up.
We dont need consultants "just ordainary local people " to show you where Money is wasted.(childrens services being the worst expedentures)

When you means tested and ascessed our vunerable pensioners and Disabled persons for the care they recieved in my opinion you FAILED them.
It is a clear known fact you have never ascessed a parent /carer/gaurdian who recieves benifits for a child /children who are in residential schools/establishmen
ts .
Thus allowing them to continue claiming full benifit of child tax credit,income support and disability moneies ( the word discrimination is an understatement to those who are paying towards there very own care on the outside)
( When a claimants housing/ tax benifit ceases you dept notifys DWP
Why do your social workers not notify DWP when you take children into your care?
Further more disabled people of Harrow having to contribute to there daily travel on your comunnity care transport where as children in care parents/cares do not make a contribuation ( age sexisim?)
Disabled contribution £6.00 per head.
Child in Harrow Council care...free ride home from Oxford to Harrow private taxi £400.00+.every weekend.
Now make your adjustments!!!
Sue Anderson you are a disgrace.





( Why do you not notify them when you take a child into care ?)
Yes well done Cllr Bond. Well done starbright. Sue Anderson..wake up. We dont need consultants "just ordainary local people " to show you where Money is wasted.(childrens services being the worst expedentures) When you means tested and ascessed our vunerable pensioners and Disabled persons for the care they recieved in my opinion you FAILED them. It is a clear known fact you have never ascessed a parent /carer/gaurdian who recieves benifits for a child /children who are in residential schools/establishmen ts . Thus allowing them to continue claiming full benifit of child tax credit,income support and disability moneies ( the word discrimination is an understatement to those who are paying towards there very own care on the outside) ( When a claimants housing/ tax benifit ceases you dept notifys DWP Why do your social workers not notify DWP when you take children into your care? Further more disabled people of Harrow having to contribute to there daily travel on your comunnity care transport where as children in care parents/cares do not make a contribuation ( age sexisim?) Disabled contribution £6.00 per head. Child in Harrow Council care...free ride home from Oxford to Harrow private taxi £400.00+.every weekend. Now make your adjustments!!! Sue Anderson you are a disgrace. ( Why do you not notify them when you take a child into care ?) harrow resident
  • Score: 0

1:25pm Thu 28 Feb 13

diligaf says...

Ohh dear ohh dear ohh dear when will people see harrow council for what it is a bunch of fat cats milking tax payers money for every single penny... and nothing will ever be done about the ridiculously high salaries like micheal "fat wallet" lockwood and co £200,000 per year what the h**l for??
Sue Anderson do your self a favour and stop talking you complete and utter dribble... you sound like fat wallet him self... when ohh when is something going to be done about the fat cats at harrow... probably never as they have got away with it for so long and no one has a back bone to stop them!!
Ohh dear ohh dear ohh dear when will people see harrow council for what it is a bunch of fat cats milking tax payers money for every single penny... and nothing will ever be done about the ridiculously high salaries like micheal "fat wallet" lockwood and co £200,000 per year what the h**l for?? Sue Anderson do your self a favour and stop talking you complete and utter dribble... you sound like fat wallet him self... when ohh when is something going to be done about the fat cats at harrow... probably never as they have got away with it for so long and no one has a back bone to stop them!! diligaf
  • Score: 0

2:41pm Thu 28 Feb 13

starbright says...

There are so many areas the Council has wasted money on Childrens' services is only one of many. Diligaf all LA chief execs were asked to take a pay cut of 5% a while ago, some agreed but the majority refused including Michael Lockwood. Instead a couple of months ago the fat cats as you so eloquently put it at Harrow decided on a 1.5% decrease instead! For all of their posts on here defending their position, the truth is they only ever tell you half a story, and bury the damaging other half!
There are so many areas the Council has wasted money on Childrens' services is only one of many. Diligaf all LA chief execs were asked to take a pay cut of 5% a while ago, some agreed but the majority refused including Michael Lockwood. Instead a couple of months ago the fat cats as you so eloquently put it at Harrow decided on a 1.5% decrease instead! For all of their posts on here defending their position, the truth is they only ever tell you half a story, and bury the damaging other half! starbright
  • Score: 0

3:46pm Thu 28 Feb 13

Anthony Harrow says...

All this and No Doubt also Lining their own pockets with pay increases!?
All this and No Doubt also Lining their own pockets with pay increases!? Anthony Harrow
  • Score: 0

4:48pm Thu 28 Feb 13

SeaBee says...

Consultants - people who borrow your watch then charge you to tell you the time.
Consultants - people who borrow your watch then charge you to tell you the time. SeaBee
  • Score: 0

9:17pm Thu 28 Feb 13

Paul from iharrow.com says...

Cllr Sue Anderson: Since you offered, I'd like to save council-tax payers the expense of an FOI request, so perhaps you could tell me: (a) The Chief Exec's job description, (b) his objectives, (c) his remuneration. I ask you, since the Council has decided such a request made to their FOI team is 'vexatious'. Look forward to the response.
Cllr Sue Anderson: Since you offered, I'd like to save council-tax payers the expense of an FOI request, so perhaps you could tell me: (a) The Chief Exec's job description, (b) his objectives, (c) his remuneration. I ask you, since the Council has decided such a request made to their FOI team is 'vexatious'. Look forward to the response. Paul from iharrow.com
  • Score: 0

7:42pm Sat 2 Mar 13

diligaf says...

Starbright... thanx but lockwood and co had rises in the years before of over 1.5% thats what they dont tell you... so in effect a small pay cut is nothing to them

but allin all nothing will ever get done is all im saying, no one in england has a back bone to do anything about it

in the meantime lockwood and co are lauging at all of us inc the staff they are cutting as well as services

sumple cut him and his cronies or get rid of the foul stench that is the corrupt harrow council and start afresh with people who are measured on what they do etc etc
Starbright... thanx but lockwood and co had rises in the years before of over 1.5% thats what they dont tell you... so in effect a small pay cut is nothing to them but allin all nothing will ever get done is all im saying, no one in england has a back bone to do anything about it in the meantime lockwood and co are lauging at all of us inc the staff they are cutting as well as services sumple cut him and his cronies or get rid of the foul stench that is the corrupt harrow council and start afresh with people who are measured on what they do etc etc diligaf
  • Score: 0

1:25am Sun 3 Mar 13

starbright says...

Dilligaf in total agreement with you. How do we awaken people in Harrow to what is really going on in the Council? I get very frustrated on here because apart from the few of us regulars, no one else seems to be bothered!
Dilligaf in total agreement with you. How do we awaken people in Harrow to what is really going on in the Council? I get very frustrated on here because apart from the few of us regulars, no one else seems to be bothered! starbright
  • Score: 0

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