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Even £9.8m on consultants can't get UK.gov network push underway

Brussels beurocrats block BT BDUK broadband boost

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The government's push to increase boraband speeds across the UK has so far signed off a massive £9.8m bill for 70 consultants over the past two years and four months, it has been revealed.

Broadband minister Ed Vaizey, responding to a Parliamentary question from shadow Culture Secretary Helen Goodman late last week, told MPs that his department had spent that cash on "external consultants (approximately 70, including interims) employed at some stage on either a full time or part time basis by Broadband Delivery UK [BDUK] since May 2010 and up to 30 September 2012".

This means each consultant received on average £140,000.

Meanwhile, complaints continue to mount about the feasibility of Culture Secretary Maria Miller's plans to deploy broadband networks carrying speeds of at least 2Mbit/s to most parts of the UK by 2015, as the national incumbent BT remains the only company bagging any of the BDUK contracts.

A row with stick-in-the-mud competition officials in Brussels has prevented any physical work from getting underway in Blighty because state aid must by Euro rules be swarded through a competitive process - and the eurocrats are unconvinced that there has been any genuine competition for much of the BDUK cash.

In the meantime, consultants working on the BDUK project - which has £680m government funds allocated during this Parliament - have been raking in an average of £834 per day, Vaizey told Goodman.

He added: "External consultants are employed on a range of terms including full and part-time employment over a variable number of days per year." ®

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