Whitehall pays at least 21 contractors over £1K a day, with most at DfT

Figures revealed in parliamentary answers show number and length of contracts for temporary workers in some departments

Credit: PA

By Tamsin.Rutter

13 Jun 2018

The Department for Transport currently has seven contractors not on the payroll who receive at least £1,000 a day, while the Department for Work and Pensions has six.

New figures released by departments reveal that across government there are at least 21 temporary workers employed on day rates exceeding £1,000.

Answers to a series of parliamentary questions asked by Conservative MP Philip Davies showed the number of contractors on expensive day rates, as well as the length of tenure for some temporary workers.

Departments including DfT, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Foreign Office all had off-payroll workers on their books who had been there for a period of up to 10 years, according to the records. The Government Legal Department had two contractors who had been on the books for over 10 years.


Defra said it had three “contingent workers” on a contracted rate of £1,000 or more per day as of March 2018. Similarly, the Ministry of Justice said it had three contractors on day rates of over £1,000, as of February 2018.

Lucy Frazer, a justice minister, said: “The Ministry of Justice brings in contractors for a variety of reasons. These include general skills for short term work on projects that do not require a long term permanent role, or where highly specialist skills are required only on a temporary basis.

“We seek to use contractors where to do so is more efficient and cost-effective, saving money for the taxpayer.”

The MoJ also said it could not provide information on length of contracts for temporary workers as it did not hold this data centrally.

Defra, giving figures from March 2018, said it had 347 contingent workers who had been at the department for less than a year, 113 for between one and five years and three for up to 10 years.  

DfT and its agencies had been employing 141 temporary workers for under a year, 86 for between one and five years, and less than five for up to 10 years, as of April 2018, according to the figures.

The Home Office said it had one contractor on a rate exceeding £1,000 a day. Ben Wallace, a Home Office minister, said that person was “engaged on a part time basis for six days per month providing specialist advice to the department”.

The Crown Prosecution Service also had one contractor paid at least £1,000 a day, according to the Attorney General’s Office. None of the other departments that are overseen by the Attorney General’s Office, including the Government Legal Department, were paying more than £1,000 a day for contractors.

The Attorney General’s Office said the CPS had 11 contractors who’d been employed by the department for up to one year and five for between one and five years. It said GLD had 20 contractors who’ had been on the books for under a year, 18 for between one and five years, six for up to 10, and two contractors who had been employed for over 10 years.

The Department for Education said it did not have any contractors paid over £1,000 daily, but informed Davies that it was employing 30 contractors paid at least £245 a day – as well as 50 at the Education and Skills Funding Agency and 19 at the Standards and Testing Agency – as of March 2018.

The Department for International Development said it did not hold this information centrally, while the Ministry of Defence said it does not “routinely maintain current details” of people paid over £1,000 a day.

The Department for International Trade, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, and the Department of Health and Social Care were not employing anyone on contracts worth this sum per day. Neither was the Northern Ireland Office, the Scotland Office, the Wales Office, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, HM Treasury or the Department for Exiting the European Union.

MHCLG, in May 2018, had 25 people on off-payroll contracts of under a year, and nine contracted for between one and five years.

The Foreign Office in April had 38 people contracted on a temporary basis for up to a year, 27 for up to five years and six people for between five and 10 years.

Some 13 of the contractors employed at BEIS between April 2017 and April 2018 had been there for over a year and under five years.

As of March 2018, at the Home Office and its agencies, 125 contingent workers were engaged for a period of up to a year, 179 for between one and three years and six for up to four, according to the figures.

DCMS, as of March 2018, was employing 52 temporary and agency workers who’d been at the department less than a year, 24 who had been there between one and five years and fewer than five workers for up to 10 years.

Davies told Civil Service World: “I am concerned that taxpayers’ money is spent wisely and where a contractor is employed for a long period of time and for over £1,000 a day – or in some cases both – I think government departments have a duty to consider if public money is being properly protected”.

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