Cabinet Office regularly hires MBB and Big Four consultancies

06 November 2020 2 min. read
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New analysis has shown that Cabinet Office spent £120 million on consultants over a period of three years. Between 2019 and 2020 this saw fees paid to private firms from the office rise by 190%, as the UK sought to prepare for Brexit.

Britain’s Government has long been filling out its depleted White Hall operations with consultants to help with the seemingly never-ending Brexit process – something reflected by the recent news that the Government spent 45% more on contractors in the last three years. While the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union might have slipped from the leading headlines over 2020 due to Covid-19, the Government’s dependency on top consultants for its impending divorce from Europe is unlikely to ease up any time soon.

Now, according to analysis from research firm Tussell, The Cabinet Office has nearly trebled its spending on outside consultancies over three years to reach £37 million between 2019 and 2020. Over the last three years, meanwhile, eight top consulting firms have received a combined £120 million from Cabinet Office contracts.

Fees paid to the top consulting firms by the Cabinet Office 2017 - 2020

PwC took the largest haul from this work, with £32 million over three years. It is closely followed by Big Four rivals EY at £27 million and Deloitte at £19 million, as well as KPMG on a more distant £8 million. MBB strategy giants Boston Consulting Group, Bain & Company and McKinsey & Company also took sizeable fees from such work, at a combined £28 million. British origin consultancy PA Consulting Group meanwhile received £6 million for work with the Cabinet Office.

The news comes as Government spending on consultants comes under intense public scrutiny. Most prominently, Lord Agnew, who oversees the Cabinet Office, wrote a letter to senior civil servants saying the civil service had become “infantilised” by an “unacceptable” reliance on expensive management consultants during the Covid-19 crisis and Brexit process.

Speaking in defence of the spending on consultants, Management Consultancies Association CEO Tamzen Isacsson recently said, “The consulting sector has been able to bring in experience very quickly to support Government and deal with complex negotiations around data, infrastructure and procurement at pace… We should remember that Government is dealing with an unprecedented volume of workload and major upheaval both due to Covid-19 and Brexit and using external resources has enabled the Government to work quickly and with intensity in many areas.”