Council wastes 50k on “new economic narrative”, without tender. Scrutiny urgently required.

Manchester City Council has given 50 thousand pounds to a couple of consultancies for a “new economic narrative.”

The “narrative” (in reality just a reheating of the same buzzwords we’ve been hearing for 20 plus years) was presented at the Economy Scrutiny Committee at the beginning of September, and is now sat in a pile of virtually identical begging documents somewhere in Whitehall.

Ahead of that scrutiny meeting Climate Emergency Manchester, Steady State Manchester and the Green New Deal podcast collaborated on a briefing paper (see as word document and as pdf)  about the “narrative”.

The meeting itself went exactly as we had thought, with several Councillors expressing skepticism and raising awkward questions about Manchester Airport and about how the “narrative” was identical to other cities’ efforts.

None of the Councillors asked how much the whole exercise had cost, so we did.  Using the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (see advice here on how to use it) we asked a series of questions. Here they are, with the answers in italics.

Dear Sir/Madam,
with regard to the report and presentation about a “new economic narrative” at Economy Scrutiny Committe on 3 September 2020.
1. Please provide the documentation about how this contract was created – adverts, tender documents, or was it just dished out without any advert etc excluding outfits like CLES.
The decision to appoint external consultants was due to the immediate and time intensive nature of the work. The city had to react very quickly to the Covid-19 economic situation.
2. Was any consideration given to doing this “in house” – to save money, or was it simply considered that the council no longer has the capacity to do this kind of thinking
Ekosgen and Metro Dynamics Limited were jointly appointed in accordance with the City Council’s Financial Regulations Part 5, Section E under a waiver to tender request in compliance with the Council’s contract procurement rules.
3. How much money was dished out to the two consultancies to produce this wonderful world-leading work?
The City Council required specialist consultants who had a track record in delivering to a tight programme working with Council Officers to secure investment for the economic recovery. Ekosgen will be paid £25,675 and Metro Dynamics Limited £23,450.

If this waste of public money makes you angry (and if doesn’t, check your pulse to check if you are still alive), then you will be furious when you find out that 400k has been spent on the Manchester Climate Change “Agency,” with nothing but some press releases, glossy reports and gassy gaslighting to show for it.

We need a seventh scrutiny committee, dedicated to climate change. If you live, work or study within Manchester City Council’s boundaries, please sign the petition for this, and share it widely.

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