Aberdeenshire Council FoI blunder - again

Council bosses were forced to apologise after it emerged that figures released by the authority in response to a freedom of information request were dramatically wide of the mark. Aberdeenshire Council had been asked to provide details of the amount spent on agency and temporary workers in the last financial year.

The GMB union needed the figures for a dossier on similar spending by all the local authorities in the UK. Aberdeenshire Council, after weeks of researching the amount, came up with a figure of just over £27.3million.

It prompted union leaders to hit out at a “horrific abuse of the public purse” and left councillors scratching their heads, pondering why the amount was so high — more than that spent by Edinburgh and just under Glasgow’s total. But yesterday — a day after the figures were released by the GMB — Aberdeenshire Council admitted it had got its figures wrong.

The total spend for 2006-07 was actually just over £4million — meaning Aberdeenshire should not have featured in the GMB’s top 10 rundown of Scottish local authorities.

Aberdeen City Council made a similar blunder earlier this year when it said — also in response to a freedom of information question — that it had spent £29.7million on outside consultants over three years.

It later emerged that the council had used the wrong definition of consultants, and that the real figure was £1.688million.

Red-faced council got sums wrong: Local authority forced to apologise after giving the incorrect information to union (Press and Journal, 10 June 2008)