Analysis by consultancy Tussell, which works as a ata provider on UK government expenditure, shows that in calendar 2018, UK central and local government spent £307m with the Big Four accountancy firms, according to published spend returns (invoices paid). However, it may be worth noting, given the background of events within the accountancy sector, that not one of top 10 largest contracts awarded by government bodies to the Big Four in 2018 was for audit services.

In terms of invoices paid in 2018, PwC led the pack with a one-third (33%) share of total spend at £102.1m. Deloitte was second with £74.9m, followed by EY, £68.9m, and KPMG 61.9m.

Of the £307m total, 85% or £261.1m came from central government and its arms-length bodies while the remainder, £46.7m, was from local government. PwC leads in the local government sector too with a 43% share worth £20.3m, followed by Deloitte (£9.7m), EY (£9.5m) and KPMG (£7.3m).

Over the course of 2018, the Big Four won 386 new contracts with a total lifetime value of £325m, some 67 more contracts than in 2018. KPMG was the prime beneficiary, winning contracts worth £42m more in 2018. Deloitte alone won half of the 10 biggest contracts awarded to the Big Four last year. Three of the firms, Deloitte, EY and PwC, were named on £10m consultancy contracts to support the Cabinet Office on Brexit.

Within central government, the Department for International Development was the biggest customer overall to the Big Four, primarily PwC with 75% of total contracts worth £49.5m. KPMG was the big winner in defence with 50% of the Ministry of Defence’s £42m spend with the Big Four while 85% of the Home Office’s £18m spend went to Deloitte.