The UK government has been condemned for a “ lack of transparency” and failure to grab the expense details linked to the consultancy work it purchased in preparation for the separation of the UK from the European Union.
Following evaluation of the expenditure watchdog, the National Audit Office, claimed departments have spent a minimum of £97m on the consultants by 2019 April.
But it discovered expenditure outlines held by the Cabinet Office to make up departmental structures. Cabinet Office outlines presented almost £65m was spent in the consultants in the year to April 2019. However, the NAO evaluated the entire costs from Brexit-related consultancy to be 50% higher. The NAO probe discloses an additional £32m in the expenditure structure of Brexit consultancy by the government departments in April of this year, along with the expenses from the polling until April 2018. The extra expenses related to the contracts entered into before Cabinet Office started offering to back to departments are not able to access via the Cabinet Office arrangements according to the auditor.
General Auditor Sir Amyas Morse report is presented how “limitations in the data” used by the Cabinet Office “ inhibit its ability to fully understand” and there was “little oversight ” of the department’s expenditure on Brexit-related consultancy before April 2018.
The NAO condemned Whitehall for having “ not met the standards of transparency expected by the government when publishing details of contracts for EU exit consultancy”.
It claimed government departments failed to disclose details of contracts awarded within 90 calendar days. While other consultancy took an average of 82 days to be disclosed, the average for the Brexit consultancy contracts was 119 days and all that had been discussed were “ vitally redacted”.
For the first time, the news report made the contracts public, triggering the chair of the public affairs committee Meg Hillier for condemning the confidentiality and refer the contracts for investigations by the National Audit Office.