Birmingham’s housing department has spent more than £1 million hiring just three consultants to managed “short term projects” which ended up lasting six years.
The three high-flying consultants were brought in as project managers on more than a dozen council house projects.
The figures emerged as Audit Commission inspectors are set to downgrade its rating for the city’s housing department, declaring its service has gone from “good” a year ago to “fair”.
The Birmingham Post has learnt that the consultants earned director level rates of up to £500 per day and have clocked up 2,217 days between them.
One of them, Asha Patel, has been employed since April 2005 and has racked up 1,426 days’ pay.
The second, former council employee Nigel Christie, was brought in to consult in July 2009 and has completed 185 days of project work, while the third, Bob Pringle, arrived in June 2008 and worked for 606 days.
The council said all three will leave the local authority this week because of budget cuts. The city’s housing and constituencies directorate already pays its management team of nine directors and assistant directors £800,000 per year.
A source at the council, who did not want to be named said: “One of these consultants was a former employee and all three of them have been retained for a significant period of time, moving from project to project.
“The council seems intent on using consultants for indefinite periods.
“They are brought in to carry out work that, in my view, permanent employees should and could carry out. In the private sector they would be brought in for very short periods and other staff would learn from them.
“At any time I would consider the spending to be reckless, but in the current climate of cuts I think it’s disgraceful.”
Councillor John Lines, cabinet member in charge of housing, said: “We have not had them in for the hell of it, we have had them in for necessity. All of our consultants have completed excellent work, but will be leaving in five days time.
“These are lean times and their departure is part of the wider plan of cutting consultant and agency staff costs, in order to keep our permanent staff.