A Freedom Of Information (FOI) request by Managed Decline has revealed that Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson has spent over £2.2m on consultants since the council switched to the Mayor-led model in 2012.
Information on the councils spending prior to this model is hard to come by as it is clothed in ‘commercial confidentiality’, but another FOI request made in 2011 revealed the council had spent £1.7 million in that year alone.
In that request the year’s previous data was refused. Information officer, Ms Fatima Sharif Ali said: “Under section 12(1) of the FOI Act we are not obliged as a public authority to comply with a request of information if the authority estimates that the cost of complying with the request would exceed the appropriate limit. The FOIA states the appropriate limit is considered 18 hours. On the basis of the above calculation we are not obliged under FOIA to provide this information as the cost of compliance exceeds appropriate limit.”
In response to our request a council spokesman said: “We have slashed the annual cost of consultants over the last few years. They are only brought in for very specific pieces of time-limited work in areas where the local authority needs additional expertise or short term support.
Examples would include detailed planning work on a major engineering scheme or developing a masterplan for a regeneration scheme. Recent examples include the Exhibition Centre Liverpool and hotel and cruise liner terminal. It is far more cost effective to bring in expertise as and when needed rather than on a permanent contract.”
In 2011 Liverpool councillors agreed to budget cuts amounting to £91 million from its budget over the next 3 years, and has saw a total drop in its budget amounting to 58% since 2010.
Lib Dem councillor Martin Kemp said: “This sort of waste damages our reputation with central government and partners. Why is it that Greater Manchester scoops more central government cash compared to the Liverpool City Region? Well there are a number of reasons but at least the Government know that in Manchester the money gets spent properly and transparently. How can we argue that the Government gives us too little money compared to our needs (and I strongly believe that they do) when we blow away so much of the money that we have had?”