Consultants ‘poor value for money’

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THE council is still failing to clamp down on the huge cost of employing consultants, according to auditors.

They uncovered significant problems with the way contracts were managed and the use of consultants after a probe during 2009-10, which highlighted “weak management of remuneration”.

At that time, the council was spending £4 million a year on experts and outside advisors. A year later, they have found that although some action has been taken, the systems “remain weak and further action is required to strengthen controls.

“This is the fourth year that significant weaknesses have been identified by external and internal auditors,” according to the report to Calderdale Council Audit Committee.

The auditors Grant Thornton said that the authority had failed to inject “adequate competition” into the bidding process for consultancy work.

In addition: “Performance monitoring of consultants is not being carried out adequately.”

Grant Thornton said that the problems were serious enough to be included in their annual report.

“The council must take action to address the concerns raised in prior years in order to reduce exposure to possible poor value for money arrangements in relation to the use of architects and consultants.”

lCalderdale Council’s internal auditors have been given a pat on the back by the external auditors Grant Thornton.

In their interim report they say the council service “continues to perform well.”

“We are pleased to report that we will be placing reliance on the work of internal audit on the operation of the council’s fundamental financial systems.”

lGrant Thornton will be paid £302,000 for the work it did last year to produce financial statements.

That will be reduced slightly to £271,000 this year, the audit committee was told.