As part of the coalition government’s commitment to transparency, Downing Street has published details for all departmental spending over the last five months. Figures for the Department for Education show it spent £12.8m on management consultants in total over the period.
PA Consultancy, which was charged with delivering parts of the Contactpoint database including its interaction between ICS and the electronic common assessment framework (e-CAF), was the highest paid consultancy, receiving £4.6m.
This is despite Contactpoint being scrapped in August. The consultancy has also worked on the Sure Start children’s centres programme but it is unclear what aspect of its work is received the £4.6m.
Children’s minister Tim Loughton said of Contactpoint in an October parliamentary answer: “Closing down ContactPoint is not about saving money, it is about finding the most proportionate and effective way to help frontline practitioners to protect vulnerable children.
“We have never believed that such a large database, accessible to hundreds of thousands of people, is the most appropriate way to help vulnerable children.”
The accounts show that Atkins Ltd, a management consultancy offering services in improving information sharing between government departments, was paid £2.1m by the DfE. Tribal Consulting was paid almost £900,000, including monies paid for the contract to challenge and support children’s cancelled following the change in government.
Methods Consulting, which is helping deliver the vetting and barring scheme currently on hold while a review is carried out, received £247,000 over the five months.
A spokesperson for PA Consulting said the company was unable to comment due to client confidentiality. Other consultancies did not comment before we went to press.
Unison said outsourcing more services would lead to less transparency.
“It’s all very well for the government to publish these figures but if we can’t get any more information about how the money is being spent by these contractors then it’s like knowing a lot about nothing,” a spokesperson said.
Five firms cash in to the tune of half a milion
The Department of Health’s social care directorate spent almost half a million pounds on management consultancies and events organisers from May to September this year, government accounts reveal.
Over £300,000 was spent on four consultancy firms, the bulk of which (almost £220,000) went to SQW Consulting, to fund the national evaluation of the common assessment framework demonstrator sites, which are testing systems to improve health and social care information sharing.
The other three were:-
- UUTech, which received £50,000 to develop a toolkit for care home managers and staff to improve dementia care.
- Whole Systems Partnership, which received £27,700 to develop a web tool to help health and social care commissioners make decisions about disinvesting and reinvesting in dementia services to improve outcomes.
- White Consultants Ltd, which received £21,800 to provide programme management across the DH social care directorate’s carers and transforming adult social care teams.
The directorate also paid conference organisers Centrevents Ltd £170,375 for it to support the National Forum for People with Learning Disabilities and its nine regional forums. The forums are designed to help people with learning disabilities influence policy and services.
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Consultancy pockets Contactpoint millions