Chris Grayling, the Justice Secretary, today told MPs that G4S and Serco had overcharged the taxpayer by tens of millions of pounds for electronic tagging of offenders.
He said the situation was “wholly indefensible” and said the Government would review G4S and Serco contracts across all departments.
If the Government does do that, it will be Grayling’s department, the Ministry of Justice, that it should focus on. In the last financial year the MoJ spent £283m on G4S’s services, or 71 per cent of all government money, according to data collected by Barry Sheerman MP (data here).
The Home Office was the next biggest client of G4S last year. It spent £43.7m in contracts with the company in 2011-12. One of those contracts, which is now run by Tascor, in the Capita Group, involved handling deportations from Britain. One man, Jimmy Mubenga, died on one a plane due to leave the country in October 2010 after being restrained by three G4S guards. An inquest jury found he had been unlawfully killed.
Elsewhere, G4S received £32m from the DWP. Some of that money will be for running part of the Work Programme, which G4S runs with 17 other prime contractors. Of the people who joined in March 2012 and stayed for a year on the programme, just 13.4 per cent have found employment for three to six months.
For anyone uneasy about the Government’s outsourcing of more and more services to private companies, the promise of a review into G4S and Serco contracts is not much comfort.
“I would not countenance a situation…where we allowed a debate about two contractors [G4S and Serco] to taint the reputations of outsourcing organisations that work and do a good job across government,” Grayling said in the House of Commons today.
In other words, the privatisation bandwagon rolls on.