He's due an uncomfortable time on Tuesday apparently when he addresses the Centre for Social Justice event on Transforming Rehabilitation and the Voluntary Sector. Along with all the usual suspects salivating at the chance to get a piece of the probation action, I'm told the audience will include Napo General Secretary Ian Lawrence, together with Greater London Branch Chair Pat Waterman, so some lively discussion is highly likely.
Of course the CJS is the creation of Chris Grayling's friend and fellow Cabinet minister Iain Duncan Smith, currently in the process of making many of our client's lives hell with his welfare 'reforms'. I suppose the ever self-serving Sir Stephen Bubb will be present as cheer-leader for the voluntary sector chiefs, but never the trustees of course, for whom he largely has contempt.
Despite being charities, some seem indistinguishable from commercial concerns and quite a few have started throwing their hats enthusiastically into the probation ring. Shaw Trust is a good example, having been involved in the Work Programme. They recently merged with another charity, Careers Development Group, a former New Deal provider in East London. The enlarged outfit has clear expansion plans and are keen to be a prime contractor for probation business. I still can't quite see how such charities can reconcile the appeals for donations when they are clearly a commercial venture intent on bidding for our work. Their TR submission can be viewed here.
Another prominent charity after our work is reported here in this Inside Housing report:-
"Stonham is planning a bid for at least one of the contracts to become a prime regional provider.
Rachael Byrne, executive director for care and support at Home Group, said: ‘Stonham has always worked with offenders, so it’s a natural progression for us. We already have bail contracts, and this is really just a way of extending that work.
‘It is a challenging step, and a new step, but not a step to be fearful of. It is about providing housing and support to vulnerable people, which is a core part of our mission statement.’
She added that Stonham has operations in all 21 regions, and would consider bidding for any of them."
With big boys G4S and Serco currently disgraced and out of the running for quite some time, I was pondering which of the second division would now become likely to try and take advantage of the temporary vacuum thus created. Sodexo springs to mind and it should be remembered that they've had their own 'reputational' difficulties such as the horse meat scandal. Formerly 'Kaylx', the French caterer wants to expand it's criminal justice work and already boasts 120 prisons worldwide, including four here in the UK.
Another one to watch is Interserve who are known for 'keeping their head down' and quietly snatching work from their bigger and more troubled competitors. Referring to the Welfare to Work scheme at the DWP, according to the ConDem Nation blog:-
Interserve has three 'prime' Work Programme contracts in Wales and the South West - but its public sector work is, alas, nothing to boast about. In 2009 the Office of Fair Trading fined it £11.6m for rigging the price of public sector building contracts after it and other builders carved up supposedly competitive bids on big public contracts such as hospitals. The fines followed an investigation into 'cover pricing', whereby companies put in artificially high bids to ensure another firm in the scam wins the deal.
Interserve likes Work Programme contracts so much that last year it bought some more, taking over Business Employment Services and Training Ltd (BEST), which runs the Work Programme in West Yorkshire. Rehab Jobfit and BEST, now renamed Interserve Working Futures, receive at least £22m a year between them from Work Programme contracts."
Interserve's criminal justice team is headed by Yvonne Thomas, just one of the small army of senior civil servants formerly at NOMS/MoJ HQ who have feathered their own nest by jumping ship and in order to make sure their bids stand a good chance of being successful.
"Yvonne will lead a formidable team which allies operational and strategic prisons expertise from both the public and private sectors. Adding operational expertise to its existing knowledge and experience, Interserve now has a complete end-to-end capability to develop innovative solutions in the delivery of custodial and community services."
Finally, it seems things are going to get a little bit worse for G4S as the National Audit Office prepare to investigate their asylum housing contract, as reported in the Observer:-
Claims that vulnerable asylum seekers have been evicted from their homes after failures by contractors working for G4S, the world's biggest private security firm, are to be investigated by a parliamentary watchdog.