Our local council has suspended four of its officials after paying PricewaterhouseCoopers to deliver savings that proved non-existent.
PwC had been paid £650,000 by the council to help identify and achieve £1.9million of savings. The resulting scheme (the Future Operating Model) actually delivered a mere £250,000 of savings and its failure now leads to the very real prospect that further job losses will be required in our area - which is hardly an employment hotspot currently.
Last October the council was advised it would have to save £10million over the coming two years, which would involve an estimated 700 job losses. There are now fears that these could be higher.
Not only has the council paid out £650,000 to achieve only £250,000 of savings, it has also emerged that the suspended officials may have agreed the £300,000 contract with PwC without first putting it out to tender. If so, this is highly irregular and irresponsible conduct.
The four to have been suspended are Paul Wallace (corporate director), Arun Menon (head of IT project management) and two heads of service, Gordon McLoughlin and John Arthur. Chief Executive John Mundell, while not suspended, has been criticised for his own role in the failure of the Future Operating Model.
With further investigations pending, it would be unwise to comment further than to state that this clearly represents a poor deal for Inverclyde. Ciano Rebecchi, a Lib Dem councillor and former Provost, said: “All involved here should have been highlighting the fact that savings weren’t happening. That appears not to have happened. The impact will be on jobs in the area and morale among staff.”