Walsall Council set to spend £10m on consultants to axe jobs
Walsall Council plans to fork out more than £10 million on consultants who could cut 800 jobs at the authority over three years, it has been claimed.
A scheme called the 'Walsall Proud Programme' has been given the green light which would see the Conservative-led council spend up to £10.7m on transforming the way the authority works.
The programme aims to 'achieve better outcomes and customer experience, increase staff satisfaction and engagement, and improve service efficiency and performance'.
Implementing WPP could cost up to £26.1 million over several years but the authority says that for every one-off £1 spent, it will make recurring savings of £3.
But opposition leader councillor Sean Coughlan criticised the move and said it was "too little too late".
He said: "My argument is places like Wolverhampton and Sandwell did this in 2011/12 when we had more money and flexibility and quite clearly we haven't got that now.
"We haven't got the capacity to transform the council, it's come at the wrong time.
"It would affect all sorts of jobs, part is to make things more digitalised.
"We don't do a lot of digital applications with the council so we've got to buy systems and put them in place.
"I really do understand we do need to change but my argument is it is too little too late.
"Any council that has gone through this previously on average has lost between 500 and 1,000 jobs."
But council leader councillor Mike Bird said he was not sure where the 800 jobs figure had come from but confirmed there would be some job losses as a result of the programme.
He said: "The proud programme is a long-running issue that we are looking at to change the way Walsall Council works and we are looking to bring it into the digital age.
"The deal on the table is quite simple, for every £1 we spend with the consultants we expect a £3 saving.
"This has not been done elsewhere, we're the first to be going down this route and I am confident that once we do what we're doing other councils will be knocking on our door and we will earn income from that.
"We don't know how many job losses there might be, but we lose about 200 jobs every year by natural wastage, people who retire and go to other organisations etc.
"Some things we do will stop so we won't need the jobs anymore."