Boris Johnson’s government is secretly planing to create an in-house consultancy arm – dubbed ‘Crown Consultancy’ – in an attempt to cut its reliance on expensive private sector firms like Deloitte, reports suggest.
The idea is championed by Dominic Cummings, the FT reports, and would bring civil servants and graduates together in a new division to improve the delivery of policies across Whitehall.
“There’s a lot of reliance on consultancies,” one source close to the plan told the paper. “It would be sensible to look at what we can do internally, rather than externally.”
Between 2016 and 2020, Britain spent £2.6 billion on just eight consultancies – including KPMG, McKinsey, Deloitte and EY.
The coronavirus crisis has seen the government’s reliance on private-sector consultancies spiral, with at least £56 million spent for help with issues as wide-ranging as data analysis and supplying PPE.
Lord Agnew, the ‘efficiency minister, is reportedly driving the project. He last month claimed in a leaked letter that Whitehall had been “infantilised” by an “unacceptable” reliance on expensive firms, which had “deprived” public officials of working on complex problems.
The new, in-house ‘Crown Consultancy’ would recruit young grads to work alongside talented civil servants and some private sector recruits to help manage government projects.
Because the civil service is unable to compete with the salaries offered big consultancy firms, many graduates begin their careers in Whitehall before taking their government experience into the private sector.
Free School Meals
The government could have funded 24 million free school meals with the exorbitant amount of money it has spent on management consultants since the onset of the coronavirus crisis.
Ministers have handed at least £56 million to companies like Deloitte and McKinsey for help with key cogs in the UK’s pandemic response, like the country’s flailing test-and-trace system.
That same sum of money could have funded 24,347,826 free school meals for some of the neediest children in England, at an average cost of £2.30 per meal.
The contracts handed out to consultancies include £6.7 million to Deloitte to help the government buy equipment for intensive care units – including ventilators.
Deloitte also earned £3 million for providing “general management consultancy services” to the Cabinet Office, related to the pandemic, and £2.2 million from the Department of Health for help buying PPE.
Consulting giants McKinsey, a US-based firm, has received a host of government contracts – including one from the Department of Health for “troubleshooting” in the government’s error-plagued data analysis of Covid-19.