The UK government will have to reduce its dependency on highly paid consultants eventually. The only question is which highly paid consultants ministers would hire to help them with the job. Working for the central government is enormously lucrative for the big four — even when politicians are threatening to shake them up. The contrast is with beleaguered banking consultancy, judging from threatened job cuts at EY.

Central government is the country’s biggest spender on consultancy services, shelling out £300m to the big four last year, according to data group Tussell. Accept the firms’ protestations that the spoils are spread around a broader industry and you might get a total fee pool closer to £600m. Even that might be an underestimate. The Cabinet Office, using a different definition of consultancy, puts the total bill at more than £1.5bn.

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