Roused from my post-Christmas torpor by today’s news that government is asking ad agencies to work for nothing, and that KPMG is offering Whitehall free work on potentially multi-million pound contracts.
Lest we are overwhelmed by KPMG’s public-spiritedness (government now comes under their CSR agenda apparently, bless), it should be pointed out that this is a time-limited offer. What they appear to be doing is paying to have their feet under the table at the point when programmes are ready to be delivered, so they can exploit their incumbent’s status to keep the work rolling in future, when I doubt it will be on such generous rates. This makes good business sense for KPMG. There is, of course, no small business in the country that could afford to do the same. It’s a game only the big boys can play.
I drafted what follows before Christmas but didn’t post it because the blog already felt depressing enough. Feeling stronger now, so here goes:
At the moment, whenever two or more freelancers are gathered together there are a couple of standard rumours under discussion: that there still might be bits of work commissioned in the new year on the old spend-the-money-that’s-left-before-the-next-financial-year-starts pattern; that there might be work of a rather ghoulish nature, managing the closing down of quangos; that the scale of change being introduced could mean that work will have to be commissioned to smooth transition in the public services. The subtext to it all is, of course, simply “I REALLY want them to start spending money again.”
“They” won’t of course – and the other common topic of conversation is that even if they did the money would go to one of the big four consultancy houses and the little fish won’t get a sniff of it. Government commitments to help small business sound a bit hollow out here in consultancy land. As the giant companies with the big bags of swag contracts go through the process of renegotiating their agreements with government, smaller shops are going under at a frightening rate.