Council's 4k-a-week consultant

Northumberland County Council has been criticised by opposition member for paying hundreds of thousands of pounds in consultancy fees despite facing budget cuts and job losses.

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Council pays thousands for broadband consultants

A leaked memo has revealed that a North East council which is planning budget cuts and job losses is continuing to pay external consultants up to £4,250 a week.

Northumberland County Council has paid out more than half a million pounds to consultants over the past financial year.

The document, which has been circulated by a council employee, shows the highest earner, who was brought in to help deliver super-fast broadband, is paid £850 a day and will earn £170,000 by the end of the financial year.

"All councils across the country use external expertise at times to provide particular skills, knowledge and experience. Short term interim appointments such as these are a very cost effective way to deliver significant projects, particularly in delivering long term efficiency savings which help the council maintain services to residents when money is tight. These costs have been built into the council’s medium term financial plan and do not require additional funding."

– Northumberland County Council

It comes at a time when the authority is faced with making almost £86 million of savings over the next four years.

The council says authorities across the country use interim appointments and insists they are a cost-effective way to deliver projects such as superfast broadband.

"Broadband is something that everyone has told us is important including MPs, business leaders and residents – and it was vital to introduce some dedicated resources to help move this project forward as quickly as possible. The project will be run through the Northumberland development company Arch, which is wholly owned by the county council.”

– Northumberland County Council

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