Much modern government depends on consultants. If a Council or the central government needs access to special knowledge or expertise on a temporary or one off basis, then consultants can be a good idea. There are some excellent lawyers, architects, surveyors, finance specialists and others that the state can hire to perform specific roles which it would not wish to employ full time at high salaries in a government department.
There can also be too many consultants. Consultants are bad value if they are hired to do regular work that could be undertaken by full time departmental staff more economically. They are bad value if they come in and seek to perpetuate themselves by making things more complicated than they need be, with a view to creating a semi permanent role. I have come across this from time to time with transport and highway consultants. Many Councils today use these firms instead of having their own highway planners and engineers propose road schemes and then implement them. The consultants often wish to develop very expensive traffic models, then design schemes that can defy common sense. Sometimes these schemes get shot down by the democratic process before damage is done on the ground. Other times they are implemented, and can make the situation worse. Usually the consultants put in a traffic model which then needs updating, offering them future work. If a Council does need a model then it should either create it itself, or buy it as a one off and update it itself.
There are rumours that a large number of very expensive lawyers and consultants are being hired to handle the Brexit negotiations. That is exactly what we do not want or need. There are MPs and think tanks who have studied and written extensively on EU matters who are happy to brief the officials being transferred into Brexit departments pro bono for free. I read that some of the consultants are busy working up the Norway option. Why? The Leave campaign ruled that out at the beginning. There can be no compromise on freedom of movement. We just need to take back control – and soon.
During the many debates I did with the professional and business communities I was impressed by the lack of knowledge of the Treaties, the Directives and the institutional architecture of the EU shown by many of them. What is the point of having consultants if they have not read Lisbon or debated the Single European Act?