Thursday, January 26, 2006
Another £168m Blown On Consultants
We already know about John Prescott's pig-headed Pathfinder scheme, which will demolish many thousands of fine Victorian houses in the North of England. It is budgeted to cost taxpayers £1.2bn, and is being bulldozed through despite widespread protests. According to SAVE Britain's Heritage:
"Perfectly decent historic houses are being condemned on the basis of ten minute external surveys in a blatant abuse of the powers granted under the Housing Act. Householders are being forced out of their beloved homes following minimal and often misinformed consultations...It is the return of the clean sweep, the mass clearances of the fifties and sixties from which we all assumed the lessons had been learned - the buildings are not the cause of the problems."
So far, so dismally familiar. But SAVE has also been digging into how our money's actually being spent. According to the Times report:
“The real winners here will be the house builders, who stand to gain from the compulsory purchase of people’s homes at artificially low prices and redevelopment of more expensive housing, often out of reach of the displaced residents. Also cashing in on the bonanza are the consultants on whom to date £168 million has been spent — enough to restore 8,000 terraced houses.”
So that's another £168 million to add the government's soaring consultancy bill. According to the Management Consultancy Association, they spent £1.9 billion on management consultants alone in 2004. No wonder the Civil Servant in charge of cutting government procurement waste admits:
"You can't make excuses when there is money pouring down the drain...People working on similar projects are often using the same consultants to give them the same information - this has all got to stop."
Indeed it has. But in a week when the Health Secretary dished out yet more work for consultants, we'd be a lot more impressed if the government actually did something about it.
PS Lest anyone think otherwise, we have no problem with the management consultants themselves. They have to earn a crust just like everyone else, and theirs is one of our most successful industries: annual billings running at over £10bn pa, and the European leader. No, the people we have a problem with- as ever- are the poilticians who preside over huge expensive departments that they don't even trust to manage themselves, let alone something important like The Kabin.
Posted by Mike D at 1:53 pm