Today
Mon 30 November 2020
Subscribe Log In

Huge Government contracts for the delivery of Brexit have been awarded to the same outsourcing behemoths making a mint from Coronavirus, reports Sam Bright

Brexit consultancy contracts worth £180 million have been outsourced by the Cabinet Office to corporate giants including Deloitte and McKinsey, Byline Times can reveal.

Released today, Government documents show six identical contracts, each worth £30 million, for the provision of “strategic programme management” related to the conclusion of the Brexit transition period – set to formally end on 31 December, 2020.

The consultancy contracts run from 1 September 2020 to 31 August 2021, and have been awarded to McKinsey, Bain and Company, KPMG, Accenture, Deloitte, and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) – six of the world’s largest accountancy and management consultancy firms. There is also an option to extend all the contracts by a further year if needed, taking the potential spend to £360 million.

For their cash, these firms are expected to “support the successful delivery of the UK’s economic and political independence” the contracts read. “Including relationships with the EU and the rest of the world.”

Consultants “may be placed in any Government department,” the contracts say, to help deliver projects. However, their assistance will be especially demanded in the areas related to immigration, international trade, food, agriculture, animal welfare, and healthcare supply chain. The inclusion of the final item in this list is a worry, given it has already been put under strain by the Coronavirus pandemic.

The contracts note that, over the past two years, the Cabinet Office has engaged in a similar consultancy arrangement, costing £88 million; a quarter of the total prospective spend for this next two year period.

It seems ironic that Brexit was flogged on the notion that the UK would be regaining its democratic sovereignty from Brussels, yet the country’s “independence” will be delivered by a flock of highly-paid, grey-suited, unelected corporate consultants.


Outsourcing Overload

What’s more, many of these same consultancy firms have already made a mint during the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic. Deloitte has been awarded contracts worth millions to assist with the Government’s pandemic response, including the management of some testing centres.

McKinsey, meanwhile, was paid £563,000 – £14,000 a day – for six weeks’ work in helping to define the “vision, purpose and narrative” of the new National Institute for Health Protection (NIHP). The health body, a replacement for Public Health England, is currently chaired by Dido Harding – a former employee of McKinsey along with her husband, Government ‘Anti-Corruption Champion’ John Penrose MP.

Earlier this month, the Government was forced to defend this outpouring of taxpayer cash into the pockets of global giants, after it was revealed that consultants were being paid £7,000 a-day to work on the UK’s Test and Trace system. Sky News revealed that Boston Consulting Group was paid £10 million for 40 consultants to do four months’ work between the end of April and late August.

Asked about this spending, Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove said it was “absolutely vital that we have all the expertise required from the private and the public sector in order to improve testing.”

Indeed, the UK’s testing regime has been mired in controversy over its reliance on private sector talent. Until relatively recently, contract tracing fell predominantly under the jurisdiction of Serco – a multinational firm run by the grandson of Winston Churchill, Rupert Soames. The corporate giant has been heavily criticised for reportedly failing to reach the required number of people in close contact with Coronavirus. Two weeks ago, the Labour Party even hosted a House of Commons debate, calling for Serco to be ditched entirely, due to its performance.

Additionally, the Government has allocated a budget of £13.8 billion for the procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE) during the pandemic. As chronicled by Byline Times, a good proportion of this spending has been channelled to firms with questionable records in the field of PPE procurement. Contracts worth least £526.3 million have also been awarded to companies with ties to the Conservative Party.

It appears as though the country is being run by corporate giants, unaccountable to the electorate. We don’t remember this being on the ballot paper, in 2016, 2017 or 2019.


Thank youfor reading this article

New to Byline Times? Find out about us

Our leading investigations include Russian Interference, Coronavirus, Cronyism and Far Right Radicalisation. We also introduce new voices of colour in Our Lives Matter.


Support our journalists

To have an impact, our investigations need an audience.

But emails don’t pay our journalists, and nor do billionaires or intrusive ads. We’re funded by readers’ subscription fees:

Or donate to our campaign to commission more investigations.

More stories filed under Fact