Don’t choke on your cornflakes this morning as you read in the Times about the government paying private sector consultants the equivalent of million-pound wages to work on its test-and-trace system!
Some executives from Boston Consulting Group (BCG) helping the government to set up and run its testing system are being paid day rates of about £7,000, equivalent to a salary of about £1.5 million, according to Sky News.
The revelation is the latest evidence of the cost of the testing scheme, which is budgeted to be £12 billion this year. According to the documents, the government has paid BCG about £10 million for a team of about 40 consultants to work on the testing system between the end of April and late August.
While the government pays the consultancy, its fee is set by the “day rates” of the individuals. BCG has day rates for public sector work of up to £7,360 for the most senior consultants. The documents show that the Department of Health and Social Care has been given a 10-15 per cent discount.
There has been growing consternation about the cost of Britain’s Covid-19 testing system and questions over value for money. Toby Perkins, a Labour MP, said that the government was paying consultants thousands of pounds “to preside over this shambolic sight”. He added: “You won’t find dedicated public servants being paid £7,500 per day . . . but what you will find is a basic competence, a knowledge of their area, a desire to make sure that the systems work before they are implemented”.
Last week Sky News revealed that the government had more than 1,000 consultants from Deloitte working on the programme at day rates of as much as £2,360. It has also seen separate documents revealing that the government has since recruited more consultants to work on its so-called moonshot programme, which aims to introduce mass Covid-19 testing.
Cynics like me will be looking for recent government fund-raising dinners and which ministers sat near which consultants?