Doncaster MP calls for scrutiny on consultants

Don Valley MP, Caroline Flint, says her staff member was verbally abused over the Syria airstrike vote.
Don Valley MP, Caroline Flint, says her staff member was verbally abused over the Syria airstrike vote.

A Doncaster MP wants a committee set up to monitor councils amid concerns over spending on consultants.

Caroline Flint has called for a financial committee to oversee council expenditure, as it was revealed Doncaster Council has spent £20 million on outside experts over the last five years.

Don Valley MP Ms Flint, who sits on the Public Accounts Committee, said a body should be established to monitor spending on consultancy fees.

New figures revealed how Doncaster had the highest spend on consultancy in Yorkshire at £20.986m, followed by York with £11.201m and Hull with £7.393m.

The figures showed how councils in Yorkshire have spent more than £72m on consultancy fees over the last five years.

Ms Flint said: “The figures suggest a growing reliance on consultants as local authorities reconfigure services or manage large projects.

“Value for money is essential. Local authorities need to be transparent about those costs and demonstrate what efficiencies or positive outcomes arise from their use.

“As England moves towards ever greater devolution, this needs to be matched by adequate scrutiny.

“At present, there is no equivalent of the Public Accounts Committee at regional and sub-regional level to audit spending.

“There needs to be for the public good.”

Simon Wiles, director of finance for Doncaster Council said: “Consultants are mostly used on the delivery of large infrastructure projects where these skills and resources cannot be sourced via current employees.

“These projects are usually funded by capital spend which is not subjected to Government cuts. Over the last five years our spend on consultants has been less than one per cent of the overall council budget.

“Doncaster has a thriving economy and we need to invest in our infrastructure and large development projects to help the economy grow further and to create jobs across the borough.”