It has long been recognised that intervention at an early stage when children first show signs of going off the rails is likely to avoid heartache later on, while also saving considerable sums of money from the public purse by avoiding the need to involve social services and the criminal justice system.
In principle, therefore, Birmingham City Council’s Brighter Futures project is a worthy initiative which fits in well with a bold new strategy to prevent children from being taken into care, if at all possible.
Why, though, the council found it necessary to spend £1.4 million on hiring consultants to advise on how to put Brighter Futures into practice and monitor the results of the programme is far from clear. Most private sector firms, even large ones, might look on in disbelief at the profligacy of paying “experts” up to £800 a day to come up with ideas to help children improve their behaviour and interactive skills.
The council is under severe financial pressure, facing spending cuts of £330 million over the next four years. It is stretching credibility to suppose that none of the city’s highly qualified education officials could not have been drafted in to work on this scheme.
By hiring consultants willy-nilly, the council gives the impression of wasting money just at the time when public finances are under the cosh.