Taxpayers spend £2bn a year on consultants in Whitehall
Taxpayers are spending £2billion a year on employing expensive consultants and agency staff in Whitehall, new figures show.
The biggest survey of its kind has found that there are almost 20,000 temporary workers in Government departments and quangos on top of the 640,000 on the payroll.
It cost an average of £100,000 a year to employ each of them – more than three times more than the wages of the permanently employed civil servants.
The study was compiled by the Cabinet Office and is likely to lead to calls for some departments to cut down on their use of freelance staff.
Francis Maude, the Cabinet Office minister, said: “It’s important the Government gets this kind of management information so that it can really get a grip on numbers.
“Today’s figures may be a bit rough and ready, but we have to start gathering this kind of information straight away so that we know what the total workforce of government really is. Until now we’ve only had an incomplete picture of the true numbers of people working for us. But as we continue to push forward with our efficiency agenda, we need to ensure managers have this kind of basic management information.
“Even though today’s numbers may not be perfect, it’s important to put what we do know into the public domain straight away as we have promised to be more transparent about what is really going on in government.”
The survey includes details for 320 public sector bodies, ranging in size from Jobcentre Plus, which employs 91,407 people to the Teachers TV Board of Governors, where just five staff work.
The largest numbers of non-payroll staff – including agency staff, interim managers, specialist contractors and consultants – are in the Ministry of Defence, where 1,193 were working at the end of March this year.
There were also around 1,000 in the Department of Health and the Environment Agency.
The Department of Health spent £265m on its non-payroll staff in 2009-2010 while the Home Office spent £244m and the Ministry of Defence £146m.
In total, the survey found 641,611 payroll staff, whose salaries came to £20.513bn in 2009-2010, an average of £31,971.
However the 19,967 non-payroll staff cost £2.003bn – an average of £100,315 each.
The Cabinet Office insisted that the exercise is “incomplete” and so some figures could change, while the figures were reported by the departments themselves and not collated by the independent Office for National Statistics.
Instead it's likely that George "Oik" Osborne will opt to cut pensions, disability and jobless benefits by freezing them at a time when inflation is running at 3%.
The other question that needs answering is how many Whitehall jobs are secondments from the private sector - some subsidised by firms like PriceWaterhouseCooper who have done very well out of government PFI and privatisation schemes.