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UK Government Reveals Consultant Spend, Big Four Firms Garner Millions

UK Government Reveals Consultant Spend, Big Four Firms Garner Millions

James Spencer,
19 August 2010

(blog) The recent release of the Communities and Local Government spending data for the last year 2009 may have been meant as a political gimmick, but it’s proven very useful to see who is really up and down in the reasonably secretive world of public sector procurement.

So we decided to try to mine this data to the best possible extent to see how the Big Four firms fared With all indications that there is going to be a slowdown on public sector procurement by the LibDem government, it would be a good to see who has the biggest share of this pie.

Of course we should point out some caveats in using this raw data. For a start, most name changes cannot be quickly spotted. Secondly, there were some surprising omissions, for example Accenture. Could the entire local government departments not have done any business with Accenture? A notable omission means that it must be so!. Finally this data cannot be extrapolated – what’s going on in the Department of Communities and Local Government may not be representative of what’s going on elsewhere. After all there are big discrepancies across departments.

So without further ado, let’s see who is winning and who’s losing.

As we did our number crunching across all these multiple spreadsheets, there were a number of small names which popped up. Winston Gross & Co, a nine person, two partner firm in Camden charged the least (that we’ve found) with £1,500 for “Financial Services” to the Community Development Foundation.

More familiar middle tier names then started to appear. Littlejohns is charging £4,836 to the Thames Gateway Development Corporation. And there are others with surprisingly low scores, such as Baker Tilley, Grant Thornton and Chantrey Vellacott. Jeffreys Henry has a decent contract with the Community Development Foundation, while Moore Stephens has an internal auditing contract (through AHL Business Assurance) with the Valuation Tribunal Service.

Then there’s a big jump in the numbers. Ernst & Young are the lowest scoring of the Big Four, which is a sole contract with the Home & Communities Agency, and this agency does do business with all the Big Four firms. The National Audit Office also ranked among the top five.

PKF is the highest scoring firm outside the big four, largely also on the back of the Home & Communities Agency. This agency also provides the main income for both Deloitte and KPMG. If its role is to create “thriving communities and affordable homes” we may be pushed to ask why it is spending a ton of money with top accountancy practices?

Finally there is the outright winner, PricewaterhouseCoopers. The firm charged more than all the other accountancy firms combined. Just over £4 million was charged in 2009 to a wide variety of departments. A whopping £1.8 million alone was for “Strategic Consultancy” from the Communities and Local Government department.

This is only the opening salvo, and many interesting facts have emerged. With other departments laying open their spending shortly, a more balanced figure may emerge, though we doubt the Big Four rankings will change that much. (blog)

Provider – Total Spend in GBP

Winston Gross & Co – 1,500
Littlejohn Chartered Accountants – 4,836
Baker Tilly Tax and Advisory Services – 10,975
Grant Thornton – 14,789
Chantrey Vellacott DFK – 23,476
Jeffreys Henry – 23,978
Moore Stephens – 29,957
Ernst & Young – 197,441
PKF (UK) – 293,329
National Audit Office – 345,450
Deloitte – 758,982
KPMG – 773,505
PricewaterhouseCoopers – 4,036,993

(Note: believes in these figures, but does not guarantee their accuracy)


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