MullenLowe and 23red among big winners from UK government’s Covid-19 campaigns

The Guardian has discovered that UK government spending on “consultants” had risen to £1.5bn in the last reported year (2017/18, post-Brexit vote) while spending among the top ten on Covid-19-related activities – including the heavyweight (and much-praised, here anyway) NHS campaign from MullenLowe – accounts for nearly £90m among the top ten suppliers.

And it’s far from over yet course.

Amid the usual auditor-owned consultants MullenLowe, the above-the-line agency, has so far received £16m* while 23red, a public sector specialist which describes itself as “purpose-driven creative agency” has received £10m. 23red says it “develops brands and campaigns that change behaviour for the better.”

Presumably media spend is not included in the MullenLowe figures.

Here’s the list:

PricewaterhouseCoopers £20.9m
PA Consulting Service 18.3
MullenLowe London 16.0
23red 10.0
Deloitte 6.7
Boston Consulting Group UK 6.0
Ernst & Young 5.2
KPMG 4.3
UMI Commercial 3.0
Newton Europe 2.0

Cabinet Office minister Lord Agnew (referring to the overall £1.5bn plus) said: “We are too reliant on consultants. Aside from providing poor value for money, this infantilises the civil service by depriving our brightest people of opportunities to work on some of the most challenging, fulfilling and crunchy issues.

“For example, we seem to be ineffectual at harnessing our fast-streamers [new civil servants] to do work that is then outsourced to consultants using similar people at a vastly inflated cost. This is unacceptable.”

Presumably he doesn’t expect the “fast streamers” to make the ads but he’s got a point.

*May include production.

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