WALTHAM Forest Council spent an estimated £4million on consultants during the last financial year, new figures have revealed.

According to freedom of information website Whatdotheyknow.com, the figures appear to show a rise of £1million from the previous year, when just under £3million was spent - although the council says this is because of changes in the way consultancy spending was recorded.

It has also been revealed that some of these temporary workers were paid more than £1,000 a day.

The department which spent the most on consultants was children's services, which splashed out just over £1.5million in 2009/10.

The year before £410,000 was spent.

Environment and regeneration was the next highest department, spending £953,000 last year, a slight drop from £967,000 the year before.

The data, which is based on estimates by the council, refers to staff employed at management levels, not temporary frontline staff.

Council leader Chris Robbins has previously said he wanted to cut the number of consultants working for the authority to save money.

The council's cabinet member for corporate resources, business and employment, Cllr Afzal Akram, said: "The figures in question are virtually the same, however there was a discrepancy in the way the figures were recorded in 2008/09.

"For 2008/09 the spend on consultants was £4,107 million and in 2009/10 the spend was £4,115 million. The reason your 2008/09 figure shows £3 million is because, in 2008/09, £1.119 million of expenditure on consultants for the schools capital programmes was transferred to a different budget while in 2009/10 this was not the case.

"We are doing all we can to reduce expenditure on consultants in this borough, but in some circumstances it is a cost effective and efficient way of delivering services to employ temporary staff with specific areas of expertise."

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