Council increases spending on consultants past £500k mark

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A COUNCIL’S spending on a money-saving consultancy firm is set to go past the £500,000 mark.

Fareham Borough Council’s executive have approved proposals to continue to fund the Vanguard Consultancy, who have been implementing a new way of working for the local authority.

The executive has approved a further £100,000 in funding to the consultancy which takes the spending up to £570,000 since 2012.

Despite the expenditure in hiring the consultants, the council estimates it has managed to save £956,400 a year as a result of the methods introduced.

Councillor Sean Woodward, leader of the council, said that the Vanguard Method ‘puts the customer first’ in how the council carries out its work.

He said: ‘It is all about putting our customers at the centre of the services we provide, not doing them in the way that we’ve always done before and working with an external consultant to see how we can do the things we do better.’

The council initially spent £300,000 on the firm in 2012, and another £170,000 last year.

It has so far been introduced in housing, penalty charge notices, benefits, planning, recruitment, streetscene and IT.

Following the extension of the contract, which will be funded with a further £100,000 from the council’s spending service surplus, the method will be rolled out into council tax, business rates and democratic services.

Councillor Keith Evans, the council’s executive member for planning said: ‘This has been a really excellent initiative which has resulted in doing the job right with service improvements and less effort being exerted and some unexpected savings being made.’

The contract itself does not have a time limit but as it was running out, the authority has had to waive contract procedures to extend it.