Our Outsourcers Stepped Up When The Country Really Needed Them Most!

According to Serco boss Rupert Soames in The Times.

You really couldn’t make it up. Rupert Soames of Serco, including its leisure company arm Serco Leisure Operating Ltd that is still failing to comply with its WLBC/Beacon Park Golf Course Breach of Condition Notice Reference E/2015/0223/BCN and the required compliance which actually expired on 16 November 2018, is bragging about outsourcers stepping up!

Soames wrote “One of the questions that doubtless will be addressed by any public inquiry into the government’s handling of the pandemic is the role of the private sector. Some have suggested that 30 years of outsourcing have weakened the nation’s ability to respond to Covid-19. In my view, the reverse is true.

“Any country faced with a crisis has to draw on the nation’s entire resources. Taxpayers cannot keep on standby all the resources needed to cope with a once-in-100-years event, so when a crisis strikes governments turn to private companies for equipment and services”.

But why do they turn to companies like Serco, infamous for its criminal activity including the massive tagging fraud?

And now we read about Mitie

yet another of these gannet like outsourcers that just hoover up the public cash that sloshes around in government bottomless pits.

“Yorkshire Ambulance Service forks out £6m to Mitie for facilities management” is the headline. Outsourcing giant Mitie, which recently bought the facilities management arm of rival Interserve for £271m, has been awarded a £6 million contract to provide facilities management for the Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust (YAS). The company – in common with more or less the whole “outsourcing” sector, it seems – has a history of problems with the quality of its physical services and financial probity, which this blog post outlines. It also has significant connections with the Tory government.

Under the five year contract, which started on 1 April 2020, Mitie provides technical services to 100 YAS sites covering the entire region, with the option to extend for a further two years.

YAS’s 61 Ambulance Stations require regular maintenance and a rapid response to the failure of critical equipment, such as garage shutters and doors which enable the ambulances to exit quickly. Mitie also has responsibility for maintaining sites which support the Service’s other core functions, such as the 999 and NHS 111 communications centres and offices for administrative staff. These require regular maintenance of Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning, power, and fire safety systems.

Mitie is also providing landscaping services, including grass, shrub and weed maintenance, for 64 of the YAS sites, as well as winter services, including highway gritting and snow clearance, for six other locations.

Private Eye reported in its 14-27 Aug 2020 issue that the government has further privatised the Covid-19 test and trace service by handing over the army’s fleet of 218 mobile testing units to private contractors, including Mitie.

The Department of Health and Social Care would not tell Private Eye which companies they have contracted to provide most of these mobile testing units, but Mitie’s ‘chief government officer’ Simon Venn said it was taking on 19 of the vans. One of them is now at a walk-through site at Rutherford car park in Canterbury.

Mitie describes Simon Venn as “a senior adviser to the UK government… appointed in 2010 by the then Foreign Secretary, Sir William Hague MP, to sit on the Foreign & Commonwealth Office’s Overseas Business Risk (OBR) board. OBR provides security advice and intelligence to UK companies.”

Mitie’s links with the government extend to director Baroness Philippa Couttie – a Tory peer, party whip and former advisor to David Cameron. She was leader of Westminster Council 2012-2017. “Both Mitie and Interserve are involved with the NHS Nightingale hospitals, built specially to treat Covid-19 patients, while Mitie has been hired to run 11 Covid-19 drive-in regional testing centres”.

Perhaps worst of all was reported in February 2020, and after Merseyrail outsourced station cleaning and maintenance a number of years ago, the work is currently undertaken by Mitie Facilities Management, part of the Mitie Group plc. Mitie Group paid nearly £49 million to its shareholders in dividends in the last five years. But it won’t pay its cleaners the Real Living Wage.

In addition Merseyrail latest profit is £16M, and just £70k would fund the Real Living Wage just 0.004% of the profit level. A recent survey carried out by RMT of Mitie workers came back with 50% of respondents saying they struggled to make ends meet. The union believes that Merseyrail should not be allowing its contractors to pay poverty wages and that these workers should be bought back in-house”.

What’s that saying “Rubbish in, Rubbish out”. Or, no different “Garbage in, Garbage out”. That’s outsourcing as represented by these appalling companies.

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