[Pounds Sterling]1.9billion. That's What Labour Spends on Management Consultants - Enough to Build 100 Hospitals

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SPENDING by Labour on management consultants has spiralled to almost [pounds sterling]1.9billion a year, a report revealed yesterday.

Some companies are raking in more than [pounds sterling]2,000 a day of taxpayers' money to advise on New Labour reforms.

The total lavished on outside advisers last year shot up by 46 per cent on 2003.

The rise will infuriate the 100,000 civil servants who face the axe as part of Gordon Brown's much trumpeted drive to slash Government 'waste'.

With [pounds sterling]1.9billion, more than 100 hospitals could be built - while [pounds sterling]2billion would pay for 93,787 nurses or 69,171 police officers.

Alternatively, the money would pay for an [pounds sterling]80 tax refund for every household in Britain.

The biggest rises are reserved for quangos, which saw a threefold increase in consultant spending to [pounds sterling] 137million last year, and the NHS, which has seen a 235 per cent increase, to [pounds sterling]85million.

The overall rise followed a 111 per cent rise in spending on consultants in 2003.

Whitehall sources say some experts are paid more than [pounds sterling]2,000 a day for their advice.

The steep increases in spending, detailed in a report published by the Management Consultancies Association, flies in the face of the Government's own waste 'trouble shooter'. Peter Gershon, the man charged by the Chancellor with finding ways to reduce departmental spending, said last year that the Government needed to crack down on the amounts being spent on consultants.

The [pounds sterling]1.9billion figure is likely to be an underestimate, since the Management Consultancies Association represents only around 65 per cent of consultants.

Critics say the huge bill makes the Government by far the biggest single spender on business advice. …