Plaid Attacks Pounds 8.3m Bill for Private Consultants

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), December 18, 2006 | Go to article overview

Plaid Attacks Pounds 8.3m Bill for Private Consultants


Byline: By Martin Shipton Western Mail

Plaid Cymru has attacked the Assembly Government for spending huge sums on consultants' fees after details were released of payments totalling more than pounds 8.3m. Shadow Social Justice Minister Leanne Wood asked each minister for details of consultancy projects their departments had commissioned since the Assembly was established in 1999.

Finance Minister Sue Essex gave an overall response, releasing details of 99 contracts with consultants, each costing more than pounds 25,000. The highest amount spent on a single contract was pounds 1,179,678 paid to consultancy firm The Glasgow Group in respect of the 'Cymru-ar-lein awareness and promotion programme'. The second highest fee, of pounds 700,000, was paid to two firms of consultants for carrying out the mid-term evaluation of the Objective One programme.

Ms Wood said, 'These figures are just the tip of the iceberg. The Government hasn't even counted the pounds 800,000 they paid consultants to examine their anti-poverty programme. I would like the audit committee to look at this further because Labour seems determined to hide the truth. I asked for a list of all the spending on consultants and they took almost two months to send me incomplete information.

'We are seeing government departments sack civil servants, only to employ consultants to do the same work for higher pay. Labour is conducting a war on public servants - more than 5,000 civil service job cuts are threatened in Wales and the Labour Assembly Government has refused to rule out further job losses. Rhodri Morgan is supporting these sackings, but thinks nothing of employing private consultants at the cost of hundreds of thousands of pounds. When it comes to protecting the working class, he is nowhere to be seen.'

An Assembly Government spokeswoman said it was unbelievable to suggest a responsible government would not evaluate its programmes when large amounts of public money were involved. …

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