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UK’s costs for Brexit consultants soar to £459 million

UK government spending on consulting contracts since 2017 jumped by 45 percent to 459 million pounds (R9.82 billion) fueled by Brexit advisory work. Photo: Reuters

UK government spending on consulting contracts since 2017 jumped by 45 percent to 459 million pounds (R9.82 billion) fueled by Brexit advisory work. Photo: Reuters

Published Oct 7, 2020

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INTERNATIONAL - UK government spending on consulting contracts since 2017 jumped by 45 percent to 459 million pounds (R9.82 billion) fueled by Brexit advisory work.

Deloitte was the biggest winner, seeing its consulting fees from government ministries jump by close to 40 million pounds to more than 140 million pounds in the period, according to the report from market research firm Tussell.

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PricewaterhouseCoopers saw more modest gains, Ernst & Young increased its consulting fee haul over the first year before dropping back last year. KPMG’s fees fell according to the study, which covered spending during the years 2017-18 to 2019-2020.

The Big Four, as they’re known, have faced heavy criticism over the past decade for auditing flaws and their perceived conflicts of interest between their accounting and consulting divisions.

A Government spokesperson said “we continue to take considerable steps to reduce unnecessary spending and protect taxpayers’ money. PwC said that while it couldn’t comment specifically on the Tussell report, the company is brought in to “provide specialist skills at speed.”

The other accounting firms either declined to comment or didn’t immediately return messages. The Guardian reported the findings of the report earlier today.

More than four years after Britain voted to leave the European Union, government officials are still grappling with the logistics of leaving the bloc and trying to secure a free trade agreement. Talks are entering their final critical few weeks which will see the UK crash out of the EU on Jan. 1 and revert to far less advantageous World Trade Organization rules if a deal can’t be reached.

The Home Office, in charge of domestic affairs in the UK, had the biggest surge of any government department. Its spending jumped 51 million pounds, or nearly 800 percent over the period, according to Tussell.

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“The repercussions of Brexit on borders, security and immigration are complex,” as the report’s authors put it.

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