A COMPANY linked to Michael Gove and Dominic Cummings has been awarded nearly £1 million of government work without needing to go through an open tender process.

Public First, run by James Frayne and Rachel Wolf, is a small research and lobbying firm. According to The Mirror, it has received £956,000 worth of government contracts not put out to tender.

Frayne has worked with the Prime Minister’s top aide on several projects, while Wolf co-wrote last year’s Conservative manifesto.

It was already reported that Public First had been given an £840,000 contract to research public opinion on government bodies. 

But the newspaper revealed yesterday that the firm was given another £116,000 by the UK Government to find ways to “lock in the lessons learned” by ministers during the coronavirus pandemic.

Government contracts typically go through a tendering process, which allows multiple companies to bid for the work. Since the Covid-19 crisis began, Downing Street has used emergency powers which mean contracts can be awarded without this process first taking place.

Frayne worked alongside Cummings at the Department for Education while Gove was based there. Before that, Frayne and the adviser founded the now-closed anti-EU think tank the New Frontiers Foundation.

Labour’s Rachel Reeves commented: "People are sick and tired of public money landing in the pockets of businesses with close ties to the Tories.

“The Government should have listened to the health and careworkers who were denied PPE, followed the advice of scientists who urged them to lockdown sooner, and sacked Dominic Cummings for breaking the rules he told us to follow.”

A spokesperson for the Department for Health and Social Care said: “Public First was awarded a contract by DHSC to carry out urgent work for the government.

“Public First has a track record of successful delivery across government that make them fully qualified to carry out priority work for DHSC.”

There has been a major focus on UK Government contracts in recent months, with the National Audit Office set to investigate some awarded to companies supplying personal protective equipment.

One £252 million contract for PPE awarded by the UK Government included 50m face masks deemed unusable by the NHS.