Hull City Council's £415k computer spend is questioned by opposition
OPPOSITION politicians have questioned a decision to spend £415,000 on a computer upgrade at the city council.
The move has been confirmed in a decision record signed off by council leader Councillor Steve Brady.
By authorising the contract with IT consultants Mokum Change Management through a decision record, it has effectively bypassed any scrutiny by councillors.
The decision was confirmed just a week after the council's cabinet agreed to commission consultants Deloitte to provide "technical and advisory services" as part of an overhaul of the authority's back office administration systems, including its computer network.
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The new work being carried out by Deloitte could cost the council up to £780,000 depending on whether or not forecast savings are achieved.
However, the company has already been paid about £300,000 by the council after being hired during the summer to draw up initial proposals.
If implemented in full, about 240 jobs are expected to be axed to help deliver full-year savings of about £5.7m.
Opposition Liberal Democrat leader Councillor Abi Bell said: "I am shocked that the Labour administration is happy to spend thousands of pounds more on consultants and the organisational support review, which many people think will not work.
"In the coming weeks, we will be asking questions about all this.
"The main question will have be on whether the costs of Labour's job-cuts project are spiralling out of control?"
She said the decision record made it very clear that money being spent to deliver the new IT package was in addition to that already allocated to the ongoing staffing review with more than £200,000 being diverted from other proposed capital projects to help pay for it.
She said: "Only a week after announcing the closure of libraries, Labour is trying to hide further spending on consultants. Labour has to come clean about why they are happy to spend more money on consultants than saving jobs."
The decision record signed by Cllr Brady says: "To maintain software that the council operates, it is necessary to upgrade that software to ensure a compliant level of support required, among other things to receive critical payroll updates each year."
Speaking at last week's cabinet, deputy council leader Councillor Daren Hale said the upgrade was necessary for the council's computer systems to operate efficiently.
He said: "To give an example, at the moment people can pay their council tax monthly but they can only pay their council rent weekly because we have two different systems that can't speak to each other.
"Anyone with a computer knows they have to be updated or they don't work properly."