The UK government is paying some management consultants the equivalent of more than a million pounds a year to work on the coronavirus test and trace system that its own scientists have criticised.
Some senior-ranking consultants at Boston Consulting Group (BCG) are being paid around £7,000 a day, Sky News reported. That would amount to around £1.5m a year.
The revelations will raise questions about the value for money that the government is getting.
England’s test and trace system has come under fire in recent weeks as coronavirus cases have surged.
This week, the government’s own scientific advisers said the system was having only a “marginal impact” on reducing the spread of Covid.
BCG, which has offices around the world, is a prestigious management consultancy. That is, a business that advises on how to run organisations more effectively.
Private companies are heavily involved in the English test and trace system. Contracting group Serco runs some test sites, for example, while Amazon is involved in delivering some testing kits.
Management consultancies have also been brought in to help with challenges over logistics and efficiency.
BCG get £10m for test and trace work
Sky, citing leaked documents, reported that the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has paid BCG around £10m. That was for a team of 40 consultants to work for four months on test and trace.
BCG’s “day rates” for public sector work – which determine the cost of its service – range from £2,400 to £7,360 for its most senior employees.
The report said BCG is giving the government a 10 to 15 per cent discount. Although this would still equate to day rates equivalent to around £1.5m a year.
BCG declined to comment.
Sky also said that 165 more consultants had been hired to work on test and trace. They include 84 from Deloitte, 31 from EY and 50 from KPMG.
A DHSC spokesperson said: “NHS Test and Trace is the biggest testing system per head of population of all the major countries in Europe.
“It’s processing 270,000 tests a day and nearly 700,000 people who may otherwise have unknowingly at risk of spreading coronavirus have been contacted.
“To build the largest diagnostic network in British history, it requires us to work with both public and private sector partners with the specialist skills and experience we need.
“Every pound spent is contributing towards our efforts to keep people safe as we ramp up testing capacity to 500,000 tests a day by the end of October.”