Public and Commercial Services Union
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PCS responds to audit office report into equality watchdog

PCS expressed concern over the use of consultants following today's National Audit Office (NAO) report into the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).

The publication of the report which highlighted the use of consultants at a cost of £323,708 comes at the same time as the commission is reorganising its helplines, resulting in the loss of 50 posts and the closure of the Manchester based helpline.

Last year the Manchester helpline handled over 50,000 enquiries from members of the public facing discrimination and its closure this autumn will see the loss of valuable skills and expertise.

The closure will also lead to the restructuring of the other helplines based in Cardiff, Birmingham and Glasgow where staff will be put under even more pressure with additional call volumes.

The union echoed many of the concerns in the report, including job matching and the delay to the pay remit last year and went on to call on the government and the EHRC to learn the lessons of the past to ensure a positive future for the commission.

Commenting, Mark Serwotka, PCS general secretary, said: "The use of consultants who were costing up to £1,000 a day is of grave concern and raises questions of value for money.

"Staff are working hard to ensure the commission succeeds, but spending hundreds of thousands of pounds on consultants, problems with matching people to roles, as well as cutting the Manchester helpline has done nothing for their morale.

"This report underlines that the use of consultants in the EHRC and across the whole of the government lacks transparency.

"Too often consultants are used to plug gaps created by job cuts and poor planning. The government and the EHRC need to learn the lessons and act on the NAO’s findings to ensure transparency not just in the commission but across government."

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