NEARLY £17 million has been spent on consultants and agency staff by Warwickshire County Council so far this year.
The council has spent some £6 million on consultants for temporary staff cover for key workers. They have also spent an additional £10.5 million on agency staff through recruitment agencies.
The huge figure was revealed after a Freedom of Information request by Liberal Democrats.
The county council must save some £139 million by 2018 due to government grant cuts.
It will almost certainly lead to cuts to services and some may have to go completely while some 300 council jobs could also be lost.
Council chiefs say they understand the need to watch their outgoings in the face of the budget cuts and using temporary staff instead of permanent employees was more cost-effective.
A spokesman told the Observer: “We are mindful of the need to keep all spending to a minimum level. The use of consultants is tightly controlled and subject to stringent procurement rules.
“At a time when the council is undertaking significant restructuring and transformation the use of short term staff, providing specific expertise is the best way to manage resourcing. The term consultant covers many types of worker and included temporary staff and emergency cover for social work and key workers.
“The council is reducing permanent headcount and delivering very significant savings so using temporary staff to cover short term gaps is cost effective.
“Warwickshire County Council has an internal resourcing team so it spends little with recruitment agencies but does need specific assistance with some hard to recruit posts.”
But Lib Dems say the council need to have more control over the purse-strings.
Spokeswoman Coun Dale Keeling said: “While there is sometimes need for consultants on various authority projects, I would call upon Warwickshire County Council to continually review the use of consultants and have a tighter control in their use to ensure that they are only employed where strictly necessary and for no longer than is needed.”