The government spent nearly £1.9bn on management consultants last year, up 46% on 2003, a new report reveals.
The steep rise will anger the 100,000 civil servants who face the losing their job as part of the government’s drive to reduce Whitehall costs, union officials said.
The biggest rises are in quangos, which have seen a threefold increase to £137m, and the NHS, which has seen a 235% increase to £85m.
Central government contributed more than £1bn to the overall total.
The rise, revealed in report from the Management Consultancies Association, comes despite the statement made last year by Peter Gershon, the man charged by the chancellor to reduce departmental spending, that the government needed to crack down on money spent on consultants.
Alex Flynn, a spokesman for the PCS, the civil servants union, told the Observer: “There will be a huge sense of outrage at these figures.
“The government is hiring consultants at vast expense at a time when departments are supposed to be making efficiency savings.
“We know that the Department for Education and Skills is hiring costly consultants using taxpayers’ money at a time when it is planning to shrink by a third.
“It seems ridiculous that the government is spending nearly £2bn on consultants when it is laying off 100,000 in a bid to save £3bn. It doesn’t make sense.’
The Treasury said that government spending on management consultants had peaked.
It argued that consultants are only brought in to provide expertise that civil servants cannot give at a time when it is seeking to modernise public services.