The British Government has a serious outsourcing addiction.
Westminster spends billions of pounds a year on services delivered by external suppliers plagued with controversies. The most high profile of this was the collapse of outsourcing giant Carilion, which resulted in the loss of 3,000 jobs and 450 public sector projects.
The latest fuck up is from G4S. The company has been fined £44 million by the Serious Fraud Office as part of an agreement that will see it avoid prosecution for overcharging the Ministry of Justice for the electronic tagging of offenders, some of whom had died.
This comes literally a day after G4S was selected by that same department, the Ministry of Justice, to run a “mega prison.” This decision made despite the fact that just last year the security firm was stripped of its contract to run Birmingham Prison following a damning inspection report which said it was in a “state of crisis”.
It is beyond baffling that G4S would even be considered to run a much larger prison, let alone be handed a contact worth hundreds of millions of pounds as this country faces one of the greatest ever recessions.
Many outsourcing calamities have impacted those must vulnerable in society – jobseekers, benefits claimants, ex-offenders. The Government must pause, reflect and adopt a new approach to delivering public services. This addiction to handing large contracts to inadequate companies must come to an end.
If Number 10 doesn’t take the opportunity to deliver real reform to the system, then it will continue to suffer repeated failures.