Monday 31 August 2020 10:36 am

UK consultants paid £100m to advise government on coronavirus

Some of the UK’s largest consulting firms have reportedly been paid more than £100m to advise the government on its response to coronavirus.

Delayed disclosures reveal a total of 106 contracts worth £109m have been agreed between various government departments and consulting firms such as PwC, Deloitte and McKinsey since the pandemic took hold in March.

The Financial Times reported some of the contracts had remained private for up to three months despite procurement rules stating a contract must be published within 30 days.

The majority of the contracts were chalked up under emergency procurement rules, which allowed consulting firms to be handed contracts directly, without a competitive tender process.

PwC has been the largest supplier of consulting services, having been handed 11 contracts worth almost £21m. Among its services including advising on the CBILS scheme, which provides financial support to smaller businesses during the crisis.

Meanwhile private-equity backed PA Consulting was reportedly awarded four contracts worth £18.3m, mostly advising on the ventilator challenge.

Marketing agency MullenLowe was handed a six-month contract worth £16m for work on the government’s coronavirus advertising campaigns, including the “stay home” message at the start of the pandemic.

PwC, along with the remaining Big Four accountancy firms Deloitte, KPMG and EY have been awarded contracts worth £44m so far. McKinsey, Bain and Boston Consulting Group have been awarded contracts worth £9.5m, according to the Financial Times.

The government had already faced criticism for paying McKinsey more than £500,000 for six weeks of work.

A contract from May showed the Department of Health and Social Care had enlisted McKinsey’s help to prepare a report on the options for a new body that would run England’s test and trace programme.

The firm was reportedly hired for £563,400 to submit a document outlining the “mission and vision” of the body replacing Public Health England.