In a comment on our post on events in Haringey Justin Wylie argues that the young people’s questioning of the consultancy fees paid to an interim Director exposes an oft-ignored dimension to the claim ‘we have to make the cuts, there’s no option’.
While the authority is planning to cut a youth service it is paying a consultant (according to the young people) £450.00 per day. All this rhetoric about “we have to make cuts because the grant is being cut” misses the main area where savings can be made in local authorities. Incompetent management and absurdly over-paid external consultants as well as corporate suppliers who over-charge. I tried to check on the £450.00 reported fee for the interim head of youth services in Haringey. I couldn’t check that but on the Community Care magazine jobs board I found an advert for the Interim Director of Children’s services somewhere paying £650.00 to £750.00 per day. The post is offered for 6-9 months. That is up to £106,000.00 for the nine months. This appears not to be unusual.
In a blog in early January Justin draws our attention to a situation in Buckinghamshire, which, he argues, illustrates a disease at the heart of local authority life, the ‘gravy train’, “a feeding trough for private individual and corporate greed.
In an evidenced piece he challenges us to take a breath. He concludes:
This is why the Trade Union campaign against the “cuts” is so unconvincing. No one – neither central government nor the Unions – can mention the real elephant in the room. Local authorities are run by managerial incompetents whose main talent frequently appears to be to shuffle vast amounts of public money off to profit-making firms often run and owned by people who only last week were employees in the public sector. These firms often produce sloppy and second-rate services and products in return.
Meanwhile they cut a few crumbs to a voluntary group which you can bet counts every penny. No doubt the council leaders are wringing their hands about how much it hurts them…
Local authorities should be obliged to develop in-house services and not contract out. In areas where there is a natural monopoly such as the provision of IT services to local authorities a nationalised industry should provide the service and councils should be obliged to use them. Managerial employees in the public sector should not be able to leave and immediately use their sector knowledge (gained at public expense) to enrich themselves. In any other country this would be called graft. These measures would reduce the budget of local authorities. The services wouldn’t be any worse. That would be impossible.
Read in full at The Cuts missing the point.