FRESH anger has been voiced after it was revealed that a council planning more budget cuts and job losses is still paying external consultants up to £4,250 a week.
Northumberland County Council’s spending on interim staff has been branded “disgraceful” and “unacceptable” at a time when its own in-house employees are facing redundancy.
Figures leaked by a County Hall insider suggest that at least two consultants are being paid a daily rate of £850 – £4,250 a week – to do specialist work.
According to the figures, one of them will earn £170,000 in 2012/13 and the other £68,000.
Another interim appointee is being paid almost £80,000 on a daily rate of £666.
In the same department, five other interim staff are on daily rates of between £300 and £718.
According to the figures, between them the eight interims are getting a total of £548,000 in 2012/13. They are doing specialist work on projects such as the delivery of super-fast broadband to Northumberland.
The council was criticised two years ago when it was revealed it spent more than £530,000 in one month on consultants – including paying one £1,175 a day.
The latest row has erupted at a time when the authority is faced with making almost £86m in further budget savings over the next four years. One County Hall employee said: “This is disgraceful at a time services are being withdrawn.”
David Bawn, chairman of Morpeth Conservatives, said: “Frankly, this is outrageous and a further sign of the financial chaos at the council.”
Steven Bridgett, county councillor for Rothbury, added: “It is unacceptable and looks absolutely horrendous to staff whose jobs are potentially at risk.”
A council spokeswoman said authorities across the country use external expertise and added interim appointments are a “very cost-effective” way to deliver significant projects.