The latest revelation of government double-standards has emerged as figures obtained under a Freedom of Information Act request by the BBC’s Newsnight programme show the government wasted between £1000 and £3000 a day on just 30 external consultants last year.
Ten were taken on by the Department of Transport, eight worked at the Ministry of Justice, five at the Department of Energy and Climate Change, four at the Home Office, two at the Treasury and one at the Ministry of Defence. The Ministry of Defence recently admitted that it had paid one consultant £3000 a day.
Separate figures show the MoD spent £137m on “technical consultants” last year – money that was not included in the government’s £317m total
Jonathan Isaby, chief executive of the Taxpayers’ Alliance, told the BBC: “I think people will be extremely concerned about the number of consultants being paid vast amounts of money for a day’s work in government.
“Government is rightly reducing the headcount of the civil service but you cannot negate that by paying huge amounts to consultants instead.”
He added: “I think there are big questions about whether we are getting value for money, not least because there is a severe lack of transparency about what they are actually doing.”
Leslie Manasseh, deputy general secretary of Prospect, the union which represents professionals across the civil service, said there was confusion about how the government calculated its figures.
He said government cuts in Whitehall had forced departments to hire a “growing” army of consultants and other managers – and little was known about them.
“This is taxpayers’ money and they have a right to know how it is being spent,” he said.
“We know how much the prime minister earns, we know how much senior civil servants and other politicians earn, we have little or no idea how much individual consultants are earning.”
Slashing of the public sector budget has left serious gaps in essential skill sets within government departments which have to be compensated for through employing external consultants on commercial rates – negating the benefit of those cuts.
It is a travesty of mismanagement that we have seen time and time again with this government. They have introduced ill-thought out policies and initiatives which on the face of it may save taxpayer’s money, but when analysed a little more closely show a dramatic increase in real costs.
Details of the consultants employed and for what purpose were not disclosed under the request.
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