Paying consultants £2.25m for pay review at East Riding Council will cost households £20, opposition claims

Unions are "prepared to fight" East Riding Council's decision to pay £2.25m to consultants to carry out a pay review and job evaluation scheme at the same time as hiking council tax by 3.99 per cent.

A protest is due to be held outside County Hall on Wednesday  Pic: Google Maps
A protest is due to be held outside County Hall on Wednesday Pic: Google Maps

Unison, GMB and Unite will hold a rally ahead of a full council meeting at County Hall in Beverle on Wednesday to protest against the decision to hire Korn Ferry (Hay), saying it could be done internally.

At the meeting Lib Dem opposition councillors will “move with regret” the Cabinet’s decision and ask for a recorded vote.

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Unison regional organiser Sarah Keig added: “It is an absolute disgrace that in the middle of a cost of living crisis Cabinet members voted to increase council tax by 3.99 per cent whilst also agreeing to give £2.25m of local residents money to a private company. Especially when the job evaluation can be done inhouse for a fraction of the cost.”

Over 10,500 council employees will be affected by the review, including school support staff, care workers, cleaners and social workers.

Ms Keig said unions were concerned that the review would “lead to an attack” on pay, terms and conditions.

She said there were two free schemes available to the council and unions would provide free training to council staff so they could do it inhouse.

She said: “We can’t understand why they are using an external company when the majority of work is inhouse between the employee and their manager. Literally all the external company will be doing is scoring the job role.

“There could be a ballot in the next few months (which could be for industrial action) if the council refuses to bring the work inhouse and use a recognised job evaluation scheme. Staff are very passionate about it - there is a real sense of unity among members.”

Coun Nolan said the move will cost Band D taxpayers £20, and if the review was done internally the council tax rise could be held at three per cent.

He said: “On the one hand, the council says it has no money and is forced to put up the council tax by four per cent.

“But if the council scrapped the consultants’ pay-out, they could hold the increase to under three per cent.”

Yesterday councillors were advised to avoid the front entrance to County Hall on Tuesday “for their own safety”.

An email said: "Please be advised that we are expecting some protestors from representatives of Unison before and during Full Council on Wednesday.

"For your own safety, please could you avoid using the main reception entrance to County Hall before and after the Council meeting."

Last week staff were told that the 18-month review would “support recruitment and retention challenges” and make the council an “employer of choice”.

It added: "On 1 February, cabinet considered these options and approved the appointment of external partners, Korn Ferry (Hay).

"Korn Ferry (Hay) is a globally recognised organisation with significant expertise in developing total pay and reward strategies, including within both the public and private sectors, and have worked with many councils across the country."

They acknowledged that the joint trade unions wanted the council to adopt the national or Greater London Provincial Councils scheme but said they were confident "that the Hay scheme is a robust one that will meet the needs of the council".

In a statement East Riding Council said councillors had considered having the review done internally, but it would have meant bringing in extra staff and “would result in a similar cost”.

They said the extra £250,000 - the original cost was put at £2m - related to internal costs which were not paid to the consultants.

It said: “We have investigated any concerns raised through the process regarding equal pay issues and found it to be a robust scheme which many other councils use.

"This is a one-time cost, whereas council tax funds our annual running costs. Reducing council tax would affect our funding every single year in the future - a £2.25m reduction to council tax would reduce funding for council services by £11.25m over the next five years.

"That is simply unaffordable, given the increasing costs we will face in future years. The council has not reduced its reserves this year to fund our recurrent running costs and council tax is critical to supporting these, both now and in the future."