Liberal Democrats Call for End to Over-reliance on Outsourcing in Council as Spend Grows to £25 million.


The Southwark Liberal Democrats have called on the council to roll out a “temp to permanent” programme across the organisation in a move to end an over-reliance on outsourcing and external consultants.

In 2023/24, at the time of enquiry, the council had spent £23.1 million in that financial year on agency staff, and a further £1.7 million on external consultants. In the previous financial year this total figure was £21.8 million. In the same period, a Freedom of Information request shows the council spent an additional £300,000 on suspended staff salaries adds to the absurdity.

In their alternative budget earlier this year, the Liberal Democrats committed to cutting consultancy and agency spend, to fund extended council tax support and reverse cuts to social care.

A report by the Association for Public Service Excellency (APSE) in 2019 recommended that insourcing can represent not just financial efficiency, but can “join the dots between the needs of local communities and the reality of limited resources”.

Commenting, Cllr Rachel Bentley, Deputy Leader of the Opposition and Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for Bermondsey and Old Southwark, said:

“It’s a total false economy to outsource labour and strategy to temporary workers and consultants. These costs continue to rise, whilst the council could be growing a workforce of dedicated and talented officers here in Southwark. This is about looking at the long term ability of the council to deliver for residents. Labour’s habit of over-relying on external agencies and consultants is bad value for money, and has to come to an end.”