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After the furore surrounding the publicity attracted by the budget for the Further Education sector on the eve of both the election campaign and then more recently on the cusp of Adult Learner's Week, the Government faces renewed criticism following the announcement of an alleged £1.4 billion expenditure on consultants in 2003 / 04, which was given at the GMB Congress in Newcastle on Sunday.

These figures, the result of a report undertaken by GMB researchers, indicate that this figure was up from £986 million in 2002 / 03 "“ an increase of approximately 29 % - and was distributed amongst a number of projects and departments. The report goes on to say that, assuming the average rate of pay for a consultant, the Government are employing an "army" of 27, 093 private consultants per year.

Getting Down to the Details

The report looked at the accounts of a number of departments, and encompassed 38 separate projects. The figures regarding the average pay for a consultant are drawn from a GMB study of official earnings statistics, finding that management consultants typically earn somewhere in the region of £51,000 per annum. The report mentions that not all information was available, but goes on to name the seven biggest spenders on consultants.

The Department of Work and Pensions topped the league, spending £307 million during the course of the year under scrutiny. The GMB report estimates that this, taking into account the average income mentioned above, would mean roughly 5, 930 consultants engaged by this department. And in sixth place, just behind the Core Home Office with its £74 million, was the Learning and Skills Council (LSC), who the report says spent £70 million on consultants during 2003 / 04, accounting for approximately 135 consultants.

"Value for the Taxpayers" Pound"

The Acting General Secretary of the GMB, Mr. Paul Kenny, said that this was unacceptable at a time when the Government are saying they will not be able to fund the £200 million required to bridge the gap in pension schemes. He describes the consultancy expenditure at this point as "really pouring oil on the fire."

Mr. Kenny stated: "These figures show that the tax payer is paying far too much for management and consultancy advice. There is scope to save money on these consultants and to spend the money instead on the front line public services." The GMB have further announced their intention to make use of the Freedom of Information Act to reveal the full figures on expenditure for all public sector bodies.

Jethro Marsh

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Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

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Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In Jan 2021, FE News had over 173,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector, putting us in the top 2,000 websites in the UK.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

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FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

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We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

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We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

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