Herefordshire Council is to spend over half a million pounds on consultants – to help it save money.

It plans to bring in Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) to lead “a cross-council transformational change programme” to digitise services to residents and streamline internal processes.

What the council calls customer contact acceleration will include using more automatic voice recognition, which “could provide the same customer experience and outcomes 24/7, at only 5 per cent the cost of a human taking the same call”, a business case prepared by the council earlier this year said.


A new council report prepared for cabinet member for finance Coun Peter Stoddart says Herefordshire “lags behind other councils” in this area, but lacks the skills and capacity in-house to achieve savings by addressing it.

Candidates for such automation include recording a birth, wedding or death, applying for Blue Badge for parking, or reporting a missing bin.

What are your thoughts?

You can send a letter to the editor to have your say by clicking here.

Letters should not exceed 250 words and local issues take precedence.

It says likely savings from the hiring the consultants will cover their costs as well as bringing around £1 million in savings to the 2023/24 budget alone, currently forecast to overshoot by £13.5 million.

The so-called Thrive transformation programme may lead to job losses at the council, but these “will be managed through vacancy management, natural staff turnover and redeployment”, it says.

Under the previous council administration, PwC scoped opportunities for strategic savings in this area last year, at a cost to the council of just under half a million pounds.

“It would therefore make commercial and strategic sense to continue using PwC to complete this next stage of work,” rather than incur the cost in time and money of going through a fresh procurement exercise, the new report says.