Thursday, 19 December 2013

TR in Trouble!

Politics is as much about news management as anything else. Tomorrow is universally known as 'mad Friday' and much of the nation will be knocking-off early and getting some serious drinking and shopping done as the 'festive season' rapidly approaches. 

Generally speaking now is as good a time as any to get some bad news out, and we learn that G4S and Serco have decided to 'withdraw' from the bidding process for probation work under the TR omnishambles proposals. Basically they had no option because we also learn that G4S is going to be the subject of a second referral to the Serious Fraud Office, and Serco have agreed to repay a staggering £68.4 million plus VAT for overcharging on tagging, all as reported here in the Financial Times:-

The crisis at outsourcer G4S deepened on Thursday after the government said it planned to refer the FTSE 100 company to the Serious Fraud Office a second time.

A Ministry of Justice audit of 15 big contracts worth £3.9bn held by suppliers to the government found there were “serious issues” on contracts held by G4S running facilities management for the British courts. The concerns included “invoicing, delivery and performance reporting”, the government said. It has asked G4S to undertake further steps to demonstrate “corporate renewal”.

“While at this stage the department does not have evidence to confirm that dishonesty has taken place, they have today, following legal advice, referred both matters to the Serious Fraud Office in order to establish whether this is the case,” the government said.

The Ministry of Justice said Serco had agreed to refund £68.5m plus VAT on its tagging contract. The amount is higher than expected.

Serco has also agreed to repay £2m in past profits on a prisoner escort contract after it was found that their staff had been recording prisoners as having been delivered “ready for court” when they were not. G4S remains in discussions with the government over the size of its repayments on the electronic tagging contracts.  

Basically this is really bad news for the TR omnishambles as Chris Grayling and the MoJ were banking on both companies being able to bid for the probation work. Of course they are putting a brave face on things and have attempted to hide the announcement amongst the list of 30 other successful bidders revealed today, but many feel TR cannot go ahead without these two 'big boys' as prime contractors. Investors and shareholders are getting jittery and quite a few of this lot might yet fall before the next hurdle:-

Bidder name
Partners include
A4E Ltd

Fabrick Housing; the Wise Group; Safe in Tees Valley; Tees Esk and Wear Valleys Foundation Trust; the Vardy Foundation; Changing Lives in the North East CIC (Potential Durham Tees Valley staff Mutual) ; Stockton Borough Council; Darlington Borough Council.
Aspire2 Change Ltd (Essex Probation Trust Potential Mutual)

Capita Plc

Chalk Ventures Ltd
A4E Ltd; Bridges Ventures LLP; Co:here (Potential Kent Surrey Sussex staff Mutual)
Crime Reduction Initiatives Ltd

CRR Partnership Ltd
Carillion Plc, Reed in Partnership Ltd; Rehabilitation for Addicted Prisoners Trust (RAPt)
EOS Works Ltd

Geo Group UK Ltd; Delta Rehabilitation Ltd (Potential Humberside staff Mutual)
Sodexo; Greater Manchester and Cheshire Staff Group (Potential Greater Manchester and Cheshire Staff Mutual)
Hampshire Rehabilitation Services
Hampshire County Council; Altered Images Management Ltd (Potential Hampshire Probation Trust Staff Mutual)
Home Group Ltd

Ingeus UK
Ingeus UK; St Giles Trust; Crime Reduction Initiatives (CRI)
Innovo (CLM) Ltd
Innovo (CLM) (Potential Cumbria, Lancashire, Merseyside staff Mutual); The Manchester College
Interserve Investments Ltd

Home Group and Mercia Community Action
Home Group; Mercia Community Action (Mercia Community Action is a CLG comprising a potential mutual of staff from West Mercia and Warwickshire Probation Trust and Willowdene Rehabilitation)
Momentis and Home Group
Home Group; Momentis (Potential Mutual including Leicestershire and Rutland Probation Trust staff)
MTC Amey
MTC (UK) Ltd; Amey Community Ltd
Northern Inclusion Consortium Ltd
DISC; The Cyrenians; Groundwork NE; Mental Health Concern; Spectrum Community Health CIC
Pertemps People Development Group

Prospects Services

Prospects Resolutions Ltd
Prospects Services; Resolutions Ltd (Potential West Yorkshire staff mutual).
Seetec Business Technology Centre Ltd

Sentinel Offender Services Ltd

Shaw Trust
Shaw Trust; (Potential involvement of Dorset Devon and Cornwall staff mutual)
Sodexo UK & Ireland

The GEO Group UK Ltd

The Manchester College

The Rehabilitation Company
Catch 22 Ltd; Turning Point; Williams Lea (division of DHL)
Working Links

I hope David Hurst doesn't mind, but I nicked the table above from him.


  1. Of the above list of bidders, most of them currently only exist on paper. Without the reluctant mutuals and the handful that are only really sub-prime material, the number of bidders is pretty much in single figures. It's certainly not a credible 'market'.

    1. Indeed! The omnishambles is going pear-shaped.

    2. Jim , now that the two ugly sisters have departed stage left , and all that remains is Cinderella......who are you going to turn your wrath upon?? Lets look at the details though , and here is the math ...30 in total (many look suspiciously like the work programme bidders) Take away the 11 mutual linked bids (who we can presume will target only their own areas) and you have 19 bidders for 21 areas,mmmm - I think that means less than one per area if we also look at some obvious matches such as the northern inclusion consortium who you may think are likely to be based in the NE (!) then you start to see the COMPETITION is getting thin, I am sure other contributors might also presume , like me a Capita, St Giles LONDON bid ???
      And what if 2/3 want the same areas....drop out ....or fail the next hurdle, there will be spare areas or NO competition ....anyhow , enough math except for the 800 organisations who want to be involved...I can't wait to see that list published.

    3. Research indicates that DISC worked with probation service users as part of IOM set up but list contract because of poor performance.

    4. following on from anon@21:31 - A4E, Capita, CRI, Sodexo, Geo Group, Home Group, Interserve, Pertemps, Manchester College, Working Links, Prospects, Seetec, Sentinel - I make that 13 bidders not linked to mutuals - but some also have links to mutuals, e.g. Manchester College, Geo, Sodexo, etc. Some of the 'prime' (?) bidders don't seem to have any profile if 'googled' - not sure if that's relevant, but it suggests there's no known history. Of the 30 listed, 10 seem to be mutuals.

      So, Chris & Jezza - give the 10 mutuals a chance & you've then only to give 11 areas to 13 bidders. Then you've almost a 50:50 split between professional greedy bastards and eager amateurs. Let the experiment begin...

  2. Surely today's events should be a suitable source of ignition to light a fire of action in NAPO's pr machine. If the two primes are no longer in the running then I can only imagine the remaining will be carefully considering the toxicity of these contracts. Perhaps this is the time to appeal to their financial priorities by driving home the risks that they face.

    "Though we have heard of stupid haste in war, cleverness has never been seen associated with long delays".
    -Sun Tzu, the Art of War

  3. Its now time shift focus on the remaining rabble. A4E - fraudsters and have cases going through. Capita who are ballsing up the court translator services. What about the rest?

  4. Jim, that must be one of your best titles yet, "TR in Trouble". That's what we like. Anyway, glad you could use the bidder list. Also, I glad that Unions have approached Minister Grayling for further talks after ACAS meeting. Hopefully, the new man will be involved, because he surely cant be any worse than what we have got so far. Wow, Serco offering to payback 68+million. Happen, G4S were a bit shy with their offer. I'm not an accountant, but I reckon even I would know if I was over charging by £68 million. I Reckon the Serious Fraud officer will have plenty to work with there.

    1. I'm beginning to think I'm a frustrated tabloid sub-editor - great fun!

  5. Just got home to find the cowardly Trust's EoI letter and associated bollox in an envelope on the mat. Now to work on the grievance letter to accompany my EoI response:

    Dear Readers Digest,

    I never ever thought I would be chosen to win the Prize Draw. Like many people I thought it was a lame duck of a lie, a misdirection to raise hopes whilst trying to sell a hopeless idea. I have put my Magic CRNPCS Ticket in the YES PLEASE envelope, and I've chosen the musical flying pig alarm clock pen as my free gift. Please also include my Delishus numbers in the monthly SFO draw for a free trip to Petit France (I'm assuming that's somewhere near Avignon; can't find it on Google maps).

    I look forward to meeting you all at the Winner's Party.

    1. Readers Digest - oh memory lane! You've got me thinking about the long-lamented Innovations catalogue now - full of crap you didn't think you needed.......

  6. What about this news that Lib Dem Simon Hughes has replaced Lord McNally as a Justice minister? Can we read anything into this?

    1. No! His responsibilities do not include probation ........But will he stick his nose in other business, who knows...

  7. £68.4 million. The back of my Expression of Interest envelope works that out as 2,280 Probation Officers for a year if they earn £30,000.

    1. Is that enough to pay for the under 12 month cohort - refer to plan B !

  8. Some positive noises, about time. Well done all for the continual hard work everyone. In Warwickshire the county council have agreed to oppose the privatisation of probstion and a formally writing to all the MPs in the Uk, to express their concern.

  9. Simon Hughes may make a lot of noise probably because he's a career politician who knows that his party might suffer badly come next election. Check out his voting record. Totally loyal to the coalition. Consistently voted in favour of all this coalitions Policies. And has voted consistently for t r. A man doesn't get into a ministry by any other means. And he will now continue to feather his nest at our expense I am sure.