THE YOUTH JUSTICE BOARD- AND VALUE FOR MONEY

QUANGO WATCH-YOUTH JUSTICE BOARD

If you are an IT consultant ,it’s the place to be.

 Comment

 Last month the Daily Mail revealed that Mike Mackay, the Chief Information Officer of the Youth Justice Board, responsible for overseeing its ‘Wiring Up Youth Justice ‘scheme earns, a staggering £336,000 per year.

 Now it transpires that The Youth Justice Board is paying 12 IT consultants more than £100,000 a year each ,while the annual accounts show that it spent almost £7.5m on temporary staff working on the IT programme in 2008/09

The fresh details obtained under the Freedom of Information Act were revealed by Children and Young People Now in August .Among those on bumper pay packets are project management office manager Andy Weller and delivery model strategist Sue Winter. Mackay is responsible for overseeing IT contractors and the sub-contracting of IT business, a responsible position, no doubt, but the YJB has yet to explain why he is worth so much.

He earns more than the vast majority of quango chiefs (including the head of the YJB) and more than the Prime Minister. On this basis he is worth ten times what a front line worker in the secure estate is. Perhaps the board of the YJB could explain why this is the case, first to staff working with young offenders, then to us taxpayers.

Industry insiders have long been concerned about how the YJB runs its IT operations and particularly whether it offers the best deal and value for money for taxpayers. The levels of remuneration for senior staff have also raised eyebrows particularly for an organisation that has a reputation for missing more targets than it meets.

 Frances Crook, director of the Howard League for Penal Reform, told CYPN that she was shocked by the amount the government body was spending on IT consultants. “The YJB already spends two-thirds of its budget on children’s prisons, and spends 10 times more on custody than on crime prevention,” she said. “The money would be better spent keeping children out of prison in the first place.” Liberal Democrat MP David Howarth, who has been campaigning against government departments employing highly paid consultants, added: “It is doubtless that the programme is worthwhile, but questions must be asked about whether it is being managed well.”

The National Audit Office and Public Accounts Select Committee should take note and start paying a little more attention to this particular quango and ask a few basic questions . For starters, why is it so secretive?

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