Ministers are accused today of "wasting" millions of pounds worth of public money on their £55bn plan to rebuild or refurbish every English secondary school.
The accusation comes from the influential Commons Public Accounts Committee, which says cash has been squandered hiring consultants to do work which should have been done by trained civil servants. The most blatant example, MPs on the committee said, is in forking out £1.35m to the KPMG group to pay for someone to oversee the project for three years – when they should have been able to appoint somebody internally or hired someone themselves to do the job for far less than the £450,000 a year they paid KPMG.
The report describes this as "perhaps the worst case of using consultants". In all, says the report, a total of £11.1m has been paid out to consultants. It also questions whether the £55bn programme will be completed by its new deadline of 2023 – which is already three years behind the original schedule.
The Schools minister, Vernon Coaker, said the information in the report was based on past figures – and the number of projects under construction had "almost doubled" in the past six months. The vast majority of the work would be completed by 2020, he said.