DCMS annual consultancy outlay quadruples in past two years

Money spent on external advice increased fourfold overnight

Credit: Raten-Kauf/Pixabay

The annual amount spent by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport on consultancy services has more than quadrupled in the past two years.

In the 2017/18 year, the department spent £2.7m on consultancy services; this figure rose by £600,000 in each of the two subsequent years: first to £3.3m and then, in 2019/20, to £3.9m. 

There was then a marked rise in the 2020/21 year, when DCMS spent £16.6m on consultants. This was, of course, the year marked by the height of the coronavirus pandemic. The department’s responsibilities in delivering government’s Covid response included supporting the administration of the £750m support fund for voluntary, community and social enterprises.

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DCMS has also led work on several major programmes and new pieces of legislation, including the Online Safety Bill and the UK’s post-Brexit data-protection regime.

In the 2021/22 year, when much of this continue or intensified, the department saw its annual consultancy spend rise further still, to a little over £17.5m.

The figures were recently disclosed by then-digital infrastructure minister Julia Lopez, in answer to a written parliamentary question from Liberal Democrat MP Wendy Chamberlain. 

Lopez added: “Values include VAT that is non-recoverable, whilst VAT that is recoverable has been deducted accordingly. The values for FY21/22 are subject to change following audit and the final value will be published in the DCMS Annual Report and Accounts FY21/22.”

The minister left government last week in a joint resignation issued with four other colleagues – including Conservative leadership hopeful Kemi Badenoch. Lopez had spent two and half years in roles focused on digital government, network infrastructure, and the technology economy.


Sam Trendall

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