The big concern about full time staff being paid as consultants continues to rumble on. This morning the Daily Telegraph reports on consultants being paid £350 and £375 a day for their services. Sounds cheap to me compared to the rates that are being paid to the numerous consultants in Barnet.
Barnet’s own annual accounts for 2010/11 identifies 9 senior officers who are paid as consultants, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. I have seen the invoices to some of these consultants and the fees are quite shocking. A consultant who comes in, does a discrete piece of work and leaves moving on to the next project is one thing. But what we have in Barnet are people who have been working full time for over a year in a designated council post.
Since it was discovered that the head of the Student Loans Company was a self employed consultant, this issue has gained some publicity but the Bloggers of Barnet have been going on about this issue for a very long time and have been completely ignored. Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs have a very useful tool on their website - Employment Status Indicator - which helps to establish whether someone is an employee or a self employed in the eyes of the tax authorities and it is obvious to me that many of these consultants are technically employees. As well as avoiding tax this situation creates liabilities for Barnet Council which, according to the HMRC website includes the ability of these consultants to claim redundancy and claim for unfair dismissal.
The time has come for Barnet to put its house in order and regularise the employment stays of its many ‘consultants’ and if councillors or the chief executive won’t initiate this process then it is about time that Eric Pickle did.