Wrexham Council are continuing to partner with PricewaterhouseCoopers as they look to make cuts of £45 million over the next three years.
PWC have been engaged as a ‘reshaping partner’ to ‘support the Council in identifying projects and service approaches’ to deliver savings and efficiencies. The company have been used before, for example they were hired for £25,000 to advise on the creation of a ‘Trading Company’.
The level of cuts is not news to Wrexham.com readers, however the longevity has up to now been framed in several years rather than ‘tens’.
Om Tuesday Wrexham Council Leader Mark Pritchard explained that savings of £15 million a year is likely for the ‘next six or seven years’ but also said “We are looking to reshape the services for the next perhaps ten years.”
Describing the situation as ‘extremely difficult for us’ he promised to ‘work tirelessly’ to find savings. He said, “We will prioritise those most vulnerable to support. There will no doubt be a political debate to see which services to continue and which ones to stop.
“These are terrible times for wales, which are being imposed on us. It is a conundrum, to take money away but continue the services that we value the most to help the people of Wrexham.
“In utopia it would be lovely to make the savings but without any changes but I am not sure if that place exists.”
To achieve these aims Wrexham Council are continuing their work with PWC, PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Back in April an unconfirmed report on the Wrexham.com Forums (post here) mentioned six PWC staff moving into offices in the town centre.
We have asked Wrexham Council for confirmation of that, but have had no reply. Update: We are told that PWC staff were in Lord St for a short while but that element of work is now complete.
Wrexham Council have also added: “Member approval is required to progress to Phase 2 and fees will be determined by negotiation as part of this progress if approval is given.”
The post also speculated to the terms of engagement, if PWC would be rewarded based on the amount of savings made.
On Tuesday Wrexham.com asked Wrexham Cllr Pritchard if PWC’s remuneration was linked to any cuts made and was told “No, no.”
The link up was described as a ‘true partner’ with initial Phase 1 work complete and now Phase 2 due to begin if political support can be found.
Cllr Pritchard went on to say, “They will come in and look where efficiency and savings are, and they will make proposals and suggestions to us and we will decide if to go forward with them.
“We will look and see if the suggestions are acceptable to the people of Wrexham.
“They will go in every department and make suggestions. They will not be working in their own areas, they will be true partners.”
Wrexham.com asked what skillsets the external consultants have that Wrexham Council do not have themselves. We were told that it was not a skills issue but todo with time, “We have excellent Officers, but we don’t have enough Officers to deliver what we want in such a short period of time.
“We are not bringing them as we don’t have the skill set, we don’t have the numbers.
“We have found £26 million in the past and lost 400 excellent staff.
“This is not just happening now but in the past as well. We will be losing more staff in the future as we need to find the savings
Cllr Hugh Jones, who sat on what was described as a ‘vigorous selection panel’, said: “The people like PWC has an excellent track record in helping councils reshape services, and help deliver things in a more efficient way.”
“They were able to provide us with a set of experienced skills that will allow us to achieve required changes inside the timescale. The time scale is not in our control.
“As a result of the process some services will be delivered better and more efficiently for the public”.
Wrexham Council’s Executive Board will be asked to support a report continuing the involvement of PWC’s work, into what has been called ‘Phase 2’.