The rates paid by Wirral council to its management consultants have been attacked by the leader of the opposition Conservative group as making “no noticeable benefit for services whatsoever”.

The claims were first raised by councillor Ian Lewis at the council’s Budget debate meeting on Monday.

On Tuesday, he criticised the use of roles such as that of an interim assistant director of delivery, for which he said the council had paid £900.43 per day.

He said £2.6m had been spent on consultants, although the Labour-led council said the majority of that figure was actually used to pay social workers.

Cllr Lewis explained: “Over the last 12 months, Wirral’s ‘hard-pressed’ council has spent £2.6m on consultants while also employing senior directors costing £1.4m.

“They can’t have it both ways. We either having a failing senior management team that needs to be propped up by overpaid management consultants or we simply have too many people at the top of this council – directors and consultants.

“Too many of these consultants are here today, gone tomorrow, raking it in from the Wirral taxpayer but with no noticeable benefit for services whatsoever.”

He also said the local authority had forked out £719 a day for a role called subject matter assets transformation, and £472 per day each for both an interim project manager in transformation and a communications and investment lead transformation.

He related his comments to the budget agreed by Labour-led council on Monday, which included a 5.99% rise in council tax and new charges for coastal car parking.

He added that he thought a “simple, straightforward” 10% cut in consultants would save “more than the parking charges will raise”.

Wirral council responded by saying the majority of the £2.6m figure mentioned by Cllr Lewis had in fact been spent on social workers.

A Labour source said: “Yet again, Wirral Tories can’t be trusted.

“With the number of kids in care across the North West now at record levels there aren’t enough full time social workers available so, like every other council, Wirral has to turn to more expensive agency workers to deal with the crisis in care.

“Just under £2m of the cost called ‘management consultants’ by Cllr Lewis are social workers looking after our most vulnerable residents.

“If Cllr Lewis didn’t know this he is very badly informed, if he did and is trying to score political points on a crisis of his party’s making – he owes those social workers a huge apology.”

A Wirral Council spokesman added: “The demand for childrens’ social care services has risen exponentially all across the country in recent years, making it extremely difficult to recruit permanent, qualified social workers.

“Therefore, it is entirely unavoidable to see an increase in more expensive, temporary agency staff – these are vital posts, we cannot leave social care posts unfilled as they provide important support to vulnerable young people every day.

“When the council does bring in consultants, it is always on a short-term basis to deliver a specialist piece of work for which we need specific skills and expertise.

"They are not required on an ongoing, permanent basis so it is more cost effective to bring them in for a short period of time to do the work required and then move on.”