A consultant cost £ 1.35million for three years’ work on the Government’s troubled school rebuilding programme, a report reveals today. The adviser from accountants KPMG charged on average £450,000 a year for providing ‘corporate finance services’ on the Building Schools for the Future scheme (BSF).
The programme began in 2003 with the aim to rebuild half of all secondary schools, re-model just over a third and refurbish the rest.
But today’s report, by the Commons public accounts committee, reveals how its costs have spiralled from £45billion to £55billion because of delays and inappropriate spending on outside ‘experts’.
More than £11million has been spent on private consultants just to establish the programme – despite the fact the department had set up a quango to run it, Partnerships for Schools.
KPMG’s £450,000 annual fee alone would have been enough to hire 65 new teachers and staff an entire secondary school.
Just 42 of the planned 200 schools were rebuilt in the first four years of the scheme, up to December 2008, putting it three years behind schedule.
The report said ministers had ‘wasted public money by relying on consultants to make up for shortfalls in its own skills and resources’. ‘Poor planning has heightened expectations and created disappointment,’ it added. ‘Instead of employing someone directly on a fulltime basis, it became dependent on a single consultant, and ended up paying £1.35million to KPMG over three years for this person.’
Schools minister Vernon Coaker said: ‘We’ve never been complacent about BSF. BSF is a completely unprecedented project, not a race to spend money.’ Tory schools spokesman Nick Gibb said: ‘We need a Government that gets proper value for taxpayers’ money, not one that squanders public money through its incompetence.’
When “readiness to deliver” has been spoken of (see Day 37 of this blog) perhaps we should remember that improving an existing system is immediately ready to deliver, assuming the guys in suits have a Plan B ready…