Public Accounts Committee

Use of consultants and temporary staff inquiry

Inquiry status: open

Public Accounts Committee holds a session on the use of consultants and temporary staff on Monday 1 February 2016 at 4.00pm

Scope of the inquiry

Government departments spent over £1 billion in 2014–15 on consultants and temporary staff. Although this is much lower than in 2009–10, spending has been rising in recent years and further reductions in civil service staffing may place upwards pressure on these costs. In addition, deficiencies in strategic workforce planning will hamper departments’ abilities to deploy these resources strategically, avoid long-term dependency and achieve sustainable cost reductions.

Departments will need to strengthen the skills of their permanent staff so that more of their specialist skills needs can be met in-house. Consultants and temporary staff can be very expensive, and departments need to improve how they let and manage assignments, so that proper approval processes are used and sufficient competition is achieved. The centre of government should provide better support to departments, and increasing the proportion of work let through central procurement frameworks should enable them to reduce costs.

This report follows up some of the themes covered in our 2015 report Central government staff costs, on which the Committee has not had a hearing.

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