The National Audit Office (NAO) has published its investigation into the use of consultants by government departments to support preparations for EU Exit.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nBy April 2019, departments had spent at least \u00a397m on EU Exit consultancy. The Cabinet Office holds information on departments\u2019 use of its support to access consultancy services for EU Exit work, but the firm said this does not represent all EU exit consultancy expenditure by departments.\r\n\r\nCabinet Office information shows that \u00a365m had been spent or agreed to be spent on consultancy services in support of preparations for EU Exit from April 2018 to April 2019. The NAO reviewed data held by a sample of four departments and by the Crown Commercial Service and found an additional \u00a332m in EU Exit consultancy expenditure.\r\n\r\nIt said this largely relates to contracts entered into before Cabinet Office began offering support to departments requiring consultancy support, and contracts with consultancy firms that departments are not able to access through the Cabinet Office arrangements.\r\n\r\nA statement by the NAO read: \u201cCabinet Office analysis found that overall spending on consultancy services has increased since 2015-16 from \u00a30.5bn to \u00a31.5bn in 2017-18. However, the figures reported in departments\u2019 annual reports for consultancy costs totalled \u00a3332m for 2017-18, compared with \u00a3134m for 2015-16.\r\n\r\n\u201cCabinet Office informed the NAO that it was working to understand these differences and was planning to review trends in departments\u2019 spending on consultancy and other professional services.\r\n\r\n\u201cPreparing for the UK\u2019s exit from the EU has been a significant challenge for departments and has required skills such as project delivery and commercial skills that are in short supply. \u00a0In summer 2016, following the EU referendum, 12 of the then 17 main departments had identified a \u2018considerable\u2019 or \u2018significant\u2019 impact to their capability in policy, operational and specialist skill areas."