In 2010, the coalition made a concerted effort to reduce the amount of money it spent on freelance consultancy to the eventual tune of about £1.5 billion. However, the National Audit Office has announced after a recent investigation that government consultants are coming back in a major way; in fact, the last three years has seen the Government almost doubling its spending on temporary staff and consultants.
The £600 billion increase in Whitehall's spending on freelancers and other temporary workers puts the annual total at approximately £1.3 billion. The culprit behind the relatively sudden increase is likely to be austerity measures that led to permanent staff cuts in the public sector, which has led some financial experts to suggest that such an uptick in expenditures on the part of the Government may not be sustainable in the long run - especially since permanent staff are paid about half what a freelancer or contractor working as a government consultant would be for the same project.
In fact, employing temporary staff members or consultants has been increasingly costly for the Government, according to the NAO. From 2011 through 2015, average yearly costs for such workers increased from £48,000 to more than £56,000, representing a rise of 18 per cent. The cost increase is suspected to be the cost of remaining competitive in recruitment, especially in an employment landscape that has been beset by skills shortages amongst permanent workers for several years now. Indeed, nearly 50 Government contractors were contracted at pay rates of more than £1,000 per day - which compared quite unfavorably to the mere 30 permanent workers that were earning the same or higher.
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