UK government awards Public First contracts worth £1 million without tender


The UK exams regulator, Ofqual, awarded a £46,000 contract for less than a month’s work providing “urgent communications support” to the small research agency Public First, which is owned by James Frayne, a close associate of prime ministerial special advisor Dominic Cummings, and Rachel Wolf, a former advisor to cabinet minister Michael Gove. This contract brings to more than £1 million the amount of public contracts awarded without tender to Public First. Previous directly awarded contracts to Public First include £840,000 to to research public opinion about government policies, and £50,000 in June 2020, when Ofqual hired it to assist with “communicating its A-level and GCSE results plan to help secure public confidence in the strategy”. Ofqual also paid Public First £2,750 to provide a speaker for its February Board Strategy Day. Public First has not had public contracts previous to 2020.

Writer: Russell Scott, Peter Geoghegan, and Jenny Corderoy
Publication: Open Democracy
Publication date: 2020-10-01