Whitehall tech temps top 3,000

Minister reveals that, at most recent count, about 3,500 DDaT freelancers were employed by government


Credit: Alachua County/CC BY 2.0

By Sam Trendall

08 Nov 2019

More than one in five digital, data and technology professionals across government is a contractor or temporary worker, a minister has said.

In an exchange of written parliamentary questions and answers with shadow Cabinet Office minister Jon Trickett, minister for implementation Simon Hart estimated that there are “17,000 DDaT professionals employed across government”.

In answering a follow-up question, Hart added that a “DDaT workforce commission” undertaken by government in July 2019 had been able to “validate” the employment status of 15,508 workers in digital and data roles.

Of these, some 9,955 are permanent civil servants.


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A total of 3,469 – which equates to a little over 20% of the overall estimated tally of 17,000 – are contingent workers. This includes temps, freelancers, and contractors. 

A further 2,084 people are, Hart said, “professionals with an unreported resource type”.

The figures are the latest indicator of the extent to which the demands of Brexit – particularly those related to major IT projects – are creating lots of government work for contractors. Data published this summer found that, in 2018/19, government spending on temporary staff and external consultants rose by £267m compared with the prior year. This equates to a 17.9% annual increase.

In March 2019, another parliamentary question from Trickett revealed that 97.8% of staff working on a major immigration IT system were temporary workers. Out of a total of 360 people delivering the Immigration Platform Technologies project, just eight were civil servants, it was revealed.

In the last few months, numerous government departments have posted contract notices for so-called ‘bench’ arrangements – in which an external company is contracted to deliver teams and individual specialists at short notice. GDS recently awarded a trio of £1m year-long contracts for providers to deliver “urgent” support with its Brexit work as and when required.

Three weeks ago, the Home Office, meanwhile, tendered a £3m contract for a technology partner to support its work over the next two years as it strives to meet “an unprecedented number of challenges” – principally caused by Brexit.

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