Fife Council’s decision to pay KPMG £220,000 to do a workforce review has been criticised by an opposition councillor.
Labour’s David Ross said the total could have paid the wages of six teachers or social workers, or kept Ardroy outdoor education centre open for another year.
KPMG consultants brought in by the council to identify savings said £11.2 million could be saved by phasing out 291 management posts.
Mr Ross said when the matter was discussed at the last policy, finance and asset management committee, officers had been “unable to justify” the expenditure. But the SNP-Lib Dem administration hit back, accusing Labour of distorting facts.
Mr Ross said, “I have previously been told that all the proposals for savings for the coming year included in the report had already been identified by the council’s own management.
“This seems to be a case of the council paying a large sum of money to consultants to tell us what the council’s management know, or should know, already.
“The SNP-Lib Dem administration have approved this expenditure at the same time as they are making cuts in schools, residential homes and many other services.
“This £220,000 wasted on a consultants’ report could have paid for six teachers or social workers for a year, or kept Ardroy open for another year, fulfilling existing bookings and giving time to find a sustainable way forward for the centre, or it could have deferred the massive rise to £25 for bulk refuse collections or deferred another rise in community alarm charges.
“This is another example of the administration wasting money in its attempts to cut back services instead of trying to defend and maintain them.”
Administration leader Peter Grant said it made sense to have the review done by independent consultants.
“For something that sensitive, having it done by someone within the council simply would not have been credible,” he said. “Mr Ross claims to have been told all the savings in the KPMG report had already been identified by council management.
“I’ve been at briefings attended by the Labour leader when we’ve been categorically told this was not true.
“I publicly challenge Councillor Ross to tell us where he got his information from. If he’s not prepared to come clean about this he should withdraw his statement and apologise for misleading the public.£220k/week savings”The one-off payment of £220,000 will achieve savings of £200,000 a week, every week of every year. It’s true that if we hadn’t done this we would have had £220,000 less cuts to make this year but we would have had £11 million more cuts in future.
“Labour in opposition are doing exactly what they did in administration. They’re looking for the short-term popular headlines and they don’t give a monkey’s about the disastrous long-term consequences. Where would they have found the £11 million of additional cuts if they didn’t take them out of management costs?
“Labour keep saying they want to cut down management costs but every time we come up with a firm proposal to achieve it they come up with an excuse to oppose it.”
“For all their huffing and puffing, Labour have not put forward a single penny of credible, costed alternative savings to help get Fife Council through the mess created by Labour’s economic incompetence. It’s no wonder nobody believes them any more.”