£891,000 cost of consultants at Sheffield council

Sheffield Town Hall
Sheffield Town Hall

Sheffield Council has faced fresh criticism about highly-paid consultants - after racking up a £891,000 bill in March.

The authority came under fire from opposition Liberal Democrat councillors and trade unions after £4.7 million was spent on consultants in 2012 – one of whom was paid £113 an hour.

The 2012 average was £375,000 a month and the Labour-run council pledged to make savings.

Although January’s bill was £298,000, £461,000 was spent in February 2013 before the March figure of £891,000.

March’s bill included £390,000 on business and management consultants.

Nathaniel Lichfield and Partners was paid £24,000, Pulse Regeneration was given £118,000 and Sero Consulting received £182,000.

Other consultancy spending included £79,000 on software design and £195,000 on engineers.

Sheffield Council said Pulse and Sero helped small businesses to tender for contracts and make better use of IT, while the £24,000 was for a review of employment land ordered by the Government.

Coun Bryan Lodge said: “We are committing to local businesses and were last week recognised by the Government with an award.”

Other consultants were needed where there are no in-house staff, Coun Lodge said.

Coun Andrew Sangar, Lib Dem finance spokesman, said: “The bill has spiralled out of control.”

Chris Jenkinson, of Unison, said: “Our members have suffered from years of pay freezes and redundancies.

“Yet, at the same time, taxpayers’ money is being siphoned off to consultants who walk off with millions.”