Whitehall Spends £500m On Consultants
Central government departments spent more than £500m on consultants and short-term staff last year, according to Cabinet Office figures.
Whitehall departments spent £505m on "consultancy and contingent labour" in 2012/13 despite the coalition trying to crack down on the fees.
Another £290m was spent on pay-offs to civil servants.
The Ministry of Justice alone spent £89m on exit payments, while the Department of Work and Pensions handed out £67m.
Analysis of the data by The Times put the overall cost of consultants and temporary staff nearer to £800m for the 17 main departments.
It calculated the higher figure based on money spent on specialists involved in projects such as HS2 and £328m for "off-payroll" staff.
The Cabinet Office insisted there was a "significant overlap" between off-payroll and consultants and contingency staff.
But other departments had "denied any duplication", according to the newspaper.
The coalition has vowed to reduce its dependence on consultants by trying to give existing civil servants the same skills.
In August 2012, Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude claimed Labour had used consultants as a "comfort blanket".
"If there was anything difficult to be done, they would reach for consultants immediately, which is both very expensive, but also it actually undermines the position of mainstream civil servants," he said.
The Cabinet Office insisted it had already put an end to "excessive consultancy spend" by introducing strict controls, which saved more than £1.6bn in 2012/13 compared to 2009/10.
"Cabinet Office delivers projects across a wide range of high-profile policy areas. It is sometimes necessary to recruit for specialist business-critical roles," a spokesman said.
"Such roles are only authorised where the skills are not readily available within civil service and where using temporary labour is better value for taxpayers' money than hiring full-time staff.
"Bringing in procurement, finance and digital expertise plays a crucial part in our determination to strengthen the corporate centre in Whitehall and ensuring that government operates like the best-run businesses."