By Peter Dominiczak, Political Correspondent
7:30AM GMT 18 Jan 2013
Justine Greening, the International Development Secretary, will force them to publish full details of lucrative overseas contracts after becoming concerned that hundreds of millions of pounds were being paid to firms working on Third World programmes.
Miss Greening, a qualified accountant, wants more of the consultants’ costly work to be done by civil servants.
She claimed that consultants had been paid more that £1 billion under the Labour government with “virtually no effective ministerial oversight”.
Miss Greening started an investigation after it emerged that companies were still being paid as much as £5.8 million every month by the Department for International Development.
Miss Greening, who will force contractors to sign a new code of conduct, said the move was “vital to get the best value for money for the UK taxpayer”. A Whitehall source said: “In some situations, like fragile states, we have to use technical experts and other suppliers.
“But in future they will have to work harder to show they are value for money, as with any other big client.”
Official figures show that some firms had continued to make millions of pounds from the aid budget in recent months. They include PricewaterhouseCoopers and Adam Smith International, an advisory firm.
Sources said that 10 of the 12 highest-paid consultancy firms have agreed to the new code of conduct.
A spokesman for the department said consultants have been told they will only be paid if they offer their services “at the right price”.
“Taxpayers rightly expect DFID to deliver the very best value for their money and sometimes this can only be achieved by bringing in expertise from outside government,” the spokesman said.
A report from Civitas, the Right of centre think-tank, this month called for billions of pounds from the aid budget to be diverted to the Armed Forces to help Britain to become a “foreign aid superpower”.
The study said that creating a new force of troops entirely focused on humanitarian relief would allow Britain to mount swift emergency relief operations to deal with famine and disaster.
Civitas said the aid policy was “naive” because it was founded on “ideological conditioned fantasies and delusions” about “the behaviours of rapacious political elites in poor countries”.
"Civitas said the aid policy was “naive” because it was founded on “ideological conditioned fantasies and delusions” about “the behaviours of rapacious political elites in poor countries”.
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