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Whistleblower hotline costs residents £11k for one call

A “Whistleblower” Hotline that cost Luton residents £5,500 in 2009/10, despite not receiving a single call, has finally been phoned up!

An Audit Committee told Luton Council, who run a confidential scheme for employees to report wrongdoing, to find a more cost-efficient way to operate the scheme a year ago.

A year later, an annual update has confirmed that the contract and line are still active – and that it received ONE confidential complaint in the year 2010/11. This means the Labour-run Council has spent £11,000 so just one call could be answered.

Of all 4 “whistleblowing” complaints made through various routes to the Council – only one of which was to the hotline – none were taken up for further action or investigation.

Liberal Democrat councillor and former Mayor of Luton, Michael Dolling, who was at the meeting on Wednesday, says:

“ We heard a lot at the meeting about staff sickness being above the national average and I do fear the poor take-up is a sign that staff don’t think their concerns will be acted on, or that it could rebound on them if they report wrongdoing. If people are not using the service it could well show they don’t think they will be listened to.

“ And after high-profile decisions by Labour councillors to reinstate staff in management positions after some terrible wrongdoing, who can blame them?”

“ It is disappointing though that this expensive line is still in place even after the same Committee demanded a cheaper option a year ago. Spending £11,000 over two years to answer one phone call is an astonishing waste. It says a lot about Labour that they didn’t do a thing about it, and residents are paying through the nose to this day.”

The Whistleblowing Policy and Annual Report was the last item on the agenda for the meeting of the Audit and Governance Committee, 20th September 2011.

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