According to documents seen by Sky News, some consulting executives operating the government’s Test and Trace system are being paid a rate of £7,360 per day – equivalent to more than 1.7 million a year in taxpayer money.
The executives receiving this pay are part of the Boston Consulting Group, with the UK government dishing out £10 million for 40 BCG staff to work on the Test and Trace system between April and August.
While the government employed the consultants for four months, BCG were charging day rates, rather than a set fee for a medium-term contract. The company added that the fees it charged were standard day rates for public sector work, and below what they’d charge private sector clients, though still ranging from £2,400, to £7,360 per day for senior staff.
Even with the 10-15% discount BCG said it was offering the Department of Health and Social Care, the upper fee rate is still equivalent to an annual salary exceeding £1.7 million (with weekends and 28 days unpaid holiday included).
This development follows several questions being raised about the bang for buck taxpayers are receiving with this high-cost and seemingly error-ridden system. It isn’t just infuriatingly ad hoc, it’s also covertly lining the pockets of overpaid consultants, who are using Excel data logging software costing under £100.
Simply a scandal. With our money. Governments have always been cavalier with our money when it comes to consultants, especially in Health. But this must be something of a record. Especially for a testing system that doesn’t even work. https://t.co/pJyMaRaBbB
— Andrew Neil (@afneil) October 14, 2020
Also reacting to the cost of the dubious Test and Trace system, Labour MP, Toby Perkins, spoke in Commons on Wednesday afternoon:
“Occassionally you get a story that seems, in itself, to demonstrate a much wider point,”
“And so it was today with the scoop revealed by Ed Conway of Sky News that the government is paying, on a daily rate, £7,360 per day to the management consultants at Boston Consulting Group, who are in charge of test and trace.”
“Equivalent to a £1.5m salary to individuals as a day rate, to preside over this shambolic sight that is letting down all the people in my constituency and in so many others.”
Perkins called for “dedicated public servants” to be brought in, to help run the Test and Trace system at lower cost.
“You won’t find dedicated public servants being paid £7,500 per day, you won’t find them on £1.5m, 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,” he said.
“And that is what we need right now in our system.”
Referring to his career in the sales industry, he added: “I never came across a customer nearly as naive as what we have with the government.”
“I just wish that at some point in my life I could have come across a customer with as much money as the government has, as willing to be so easily impressed as this government is, and as willing to give it to people and then defend the people who let them down as a supplier,”
The bottom line is we’re currently paying over the odds for software that, while being rolled out on a huge scale, isn’t actually performing especially sophisticated tasks by modern standards.
Not only have other countries managed it, but we need to stop describing it as the ‘NHS Test and Trace app’. Neither BCG nor Deloitte consultants work for the NHS, and linking their efforts to the services the NHS provides, is a great disservice.