15 March 2007 | Paul Snell
External consultants working in the public sector can earn between £100 and £200 more a day than those in the private sector, according to new research.
Consultant rates in the public sector can range from £550 to £1,000 for a day's work, the research by recruitment consultancy Commerce Partners found. It claimed the higher rates were driven by the sector's need to become more commercial.
"The public sector is looking for people to make the move there, so it is offering the carrot of raising its rates," said Andrew MacAskill, senior consultant, procurement team at Commerce Partners.
He added that the public sector was using consultants to achieve savings outlined by the Gershon review and that the sector thought the costs were viable if a consultant could reduce the department's bottom line by a few million pounds.
Commerce Partners said rates for interim consultants in the public and private sector had been growing consistently over the past six months, partly as a result of a number of procurement transformation projects taking place.
MacAskill said when heads of procurement wanted to begin a transformation, they were often looking for purchasers with better skills. But while they wait for new recruits to leave other jobs, they employ interims.
Mark Badley, team leader for procurement at Commerce Partners, said there was a greater need for consultants with expertise in professional services such as legal and recruitment.
But while the pay for consultants is increasing, Badley warned buyers who are keen to make the change that "it is very difficult to make CPO by being an interim".