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Consultants rack up £32M in five months from government

Civils consultants earned £32M from central government between the beginning of May and the end of September, according to official figures released this week.

Details published

The government has published details of all payments of £25,000 or more made by central departments to suppliers as part of its new transparency agenda.

Civils firms feature prominently in spending charts of the Department for Transport (DfT), the government’s second biggest spender on consultants. They also claimed cash from the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the Department for International Development (DfID), the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG), the Department for Education (DfE) and the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC).

The figures confirm that Mott MacDonald, Atkins and Mouchel are three of the top four highest paid consultants, with central government paying them £11M, £3.8M and £1.9M respectively.

Aid work

All three were among the 34 tier two suppliers called in by Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude last month and ordered to offer savings and rebates on existing deals (News last week).

Mott MacDonald’s income is heavily skewed by its work for DfID which paid it £6.5M in the five months covered by the newly released figures.But the bulk of this cash is aid money that it is distributing as part of a World Bank contract to coordinate the economic recovery process in the Aceh and Nias provinces of Indonesia.

Mott MacDonald was also paid £3.1bn by DCLG for IT consultancy. Actual civils consultancy fees amounted to £1.6M paid out by the DfT. Atkins and Mouchel were paid most by DfE, with fees amounting to £2.1M and £1.8M respectively. They earned £1.5M and £92,000 from DfT respectively. Atkins earned the remaining £147,000 from Defra, DfID and DECC.

DfT spending

Aecom, which was not called in by Maude, was the consultant that earned most from the DfT. It earned £1.6M between May and September. Jacobs, Steer Davies Gleave and transport research firm TRL all also earned more than £1M from the DfT.

In total the DfT paid out £12.2M to civils consultants over the five month period out of a total expenditure of £4.5bn. This £12.2M equates to an annual spend of around £30M. Last year the DfT spent £96M on all forms of consultants.

Other big earning firms were Parsons Brinckerhoff, which was paid £1.1M from DECC. WSP was paid £3.7M from DfID for management consultancy work.

Maude review

Atkins, Mouchel and Mott MacDonald were among 34 firms from different industries who were called in to the Cabinet Office last month for a group discussion about cutting payments and repaying already earned fees.

Maude told them he wanted them to look at the government contracts they have and work out how much of the money already earned this year they would be willing to give back. He also asked them how much they were prepared to cut rates by for future work. Ideas for efficiency savings would be welcomed, Maude told them, but only once they have offered to repay some cash.

The 34 firms were all due to go back to the Cabinet Office for individual meetings by the end of this month.

Readers' comments (1)

  • 1. I find the language in the heading to this article a little stange, to me 'rack up' implies some sort of sharp practice..is that being alleged?

    2. I would expect that most if not all assignments were competitively bid and that the £32 million has been disbursed as per Agreements for work actually undertaken

    3. There is word that seems to describe the Government action.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

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