Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Omnishambles Update 75

The voluntary sector continue to feel suspicious about what kind of deals the MoJ are trying to stitch up, as discussed in this blog on the bigsocietycapital website:-
Delving deeper, the picture seems less rosy for the social sector. 
  • Only one out of twenty-one lots has been won by a socially-led consortium. This is the ARCC consortium in Durham Tees, which is a relatively small lot accounting for less than 3% of the total TR programme value. 
  • Five lots have been won by joint ventures that have a degree of social sector involvement or equity stake, although in one case we believe the charitable JV partners have a very small equity share in the JV. 
  • A further fourteen lots have been won by 'partnerships' or 'strategic partnerships' between private-for-profit and social sector organisations. Hopefully the best of these partnerships will contractually establish respective roles of different partners with clear expectations of who will get what work, on what terms. But other arrangements may be looser and more fluid, and we saw in the Work Programme that voluntary sector partnerships with private companies do not always work out well.
At the end of the day it is not the number of voluntary sector and mutual providers named in TR bids that matters, but the volume of work they get and amount of positive impact they can create for the most disadvantaged and vulnerable in society.

Transparency on major contracting flows is needed
One way for the MoJ to quickly quell suspicion of so called social window-dressing is to commit to the full publication of major sub-contracting workflows (anything say more than 10% of annual contract value) within each lot. This way everyone can see what value of work the major members of a partnership are picking up. Strong partnerships would have nothing to hide. There is still just time to write these requirements into contracts which are due to be signed over the next few weeks. This would fit very well with the Government’s transparency agenda and its founding membership of the Open Government Partnership.
There is an underlying large size bias in these contracts
Contract transparency will go so far in determining how TR works out for charities, social enterprises and mutuals. But there has been a deeper, more structural issue with TR that is challenging, if not impossible, for the social sector to overcome – and this is its bias towards large organisational size.
Preferred bidder consortia all have at least one multinational member with assets in the hundreds of millions, if not billions, with the exception of one (Seetec with total assets of £43mm). There are practically no charities, social enterprise or mutually-owned organisations that have assets anywhere near the size of the winning TR bidders, unless they have evolved out the social housing sector or are a grant-making endowment charity. Sure enough, many extremely credible service delivery organisations, such as CRI, were competing in the late stages of TR bidding, are now conspicuous by their absence as prime contractors. Does this mean the future for these organisations in the big government outsourcing markets is limited to minority JVs and sub-contracting to big private companies?
The signs of a large-size bias were increasingly obvious as the TR bidding process advanced. Part of the problem was the sheer stamina needed to survive 13 months and counting since the procurement formally opened, the thousands of documents dropped into the data rooms, the multiple shifting deadlines, the two full bid resubmissions, the multiple redesigns of the payment mechanism that underpins all commercial modelling. Not to mention the pre-contract award investment in IT and other infrastructure key to rapid contract mobilisation. All of this is of course harder for smaller organisations to keep pace with, although not impossible, we know and worked with charities and social enterprises that persevered despite those hurdles.
The Parent Company Guarantee requirements are particularly problematic
Most problematic though was the MoJ's insistence on a large (100% of annual contract value) and broadly defined 'Parent Company Guarantee'. Companies with large balance sheets and who directly oversee service delivery can, to an extent, stomach this - although we are sure the TR guarantees led to much queasiness in even the loftiest private sector boardroom. That is because parent companies have the information rights to spot issues early, the control rights and service delivery expertise to sort problems quickly, and ultimately they are big enough to spread the adverse financial impact across a broader business if things go really wrong and the guarantee is called. But bidders with smaller balance sheets had to either ‘bet the ranch’ (rarely a prudent thing for a charitable trustee to do) or look to a third party to provide a guarantee on their behalf. It goes without saying that third parties cannot also be parent companies (by definition), and they also lack the information, control or expertise over service delivery that a parent company has.
Big Society Capital had several conversations with insurance brokers about backing the parent company guarantees required in TR. It is telling that none would offer the full amount of the guarantee. We pointed out to the MoJ on several occasions the difficulties the social sector or indeed any SMEs would have in meeting parent company guarantees for TR. But it seems we did not get very far. BSC was itself prepared to offer a form of guarantee (even as a third party) to three very credible socially-led bids, but sadly they either withdrew from the competition or were not ultimately successful.
As the winning bidders continue to panic about whether to proceed or not, they would do well to learn from Serco's experience. A contributor from yesterday:-

When bidders read this blog they probably think much of what's said is just aimed at trying to put them off bidding for contracts. But given the chaotic and confused nature of probation services currently, caused by fogged thinking, political ideology, and untested haste, bidders would do well to read these words from Serco today, and please keep in mind whilst doing so, that their contracts are far less complicated then probation contracts.

Serco said it "has failed to manage effectively the fact that over recent years there have been significant advances in public sector contracting, particularly in the UK, with new models that transfer substantially more risk to suppliers." As a consequence, we now have a number of contracts which are making large losses, and others which are in sectors where we are sub-scale."

 From the Guardian yesterday:-
Serco shares crash after latest profits warning
Shares in Serco, the outsourcing company that runs railways, prisons and GPs out-of-hours services, crashed by a third after the firm shocked the market with the fourth profit warning this year. The company, which employs 120,000 people across 30 countries, suspended its dividend and said it planned to tap shareholders for £550m in new funds. It also confirmed plans to sell non-core assets in an attempt to restore its fortunes.
The government services group, which has been dogged by scandals, including overcharging the taxpayer for tagging prisoners, said it was writing down the value of its business by £1.5bn. Profits for 2014 are now expected to be £130m-£140m, around £20m lower than forecast, with the outlook downgraded for 2015.

Serco has also increased provisions for a number of UK contracts by £150m-£200m, after running into trouble in several areas. One of Serco’s problem contracts is providing housing for vulnerable asylum seekers, where it has been criticised by the government’s spending watchdog for failing to provide habitable properties. Serco’s prisoner escort service to the UK government, where police were called into investigate alleged fraud, has also generated lower revenues than expected. Serco has also taken losses on its service to the Royal Navy, where it supports Sea King helicopters in search and rescue missions. 
Grayling continues to believe there are 'fifth columnists' everywhere as outlined by Ian Dunt on the politics.co.uk website:-
'An interesting minister': Withering attack on Grayling over charity paranoia
Chris Grayling's paranoia over a Labour-supporting fifth column in the charities sector is well-documented, not least by himself when he elects to write another piece for the Telegraph or Conservative Home. The justice secretary believes leftist agitators have hijacked prison charities and used them to oppose 'common-sense solutions' to our prisons.
What rather calls into question Grayling's account is that their concerns are echoed by the chief inspector of prisons, independent monitoring boards, the Prison Governors Association and Lord Rambotham, the former prison inspector who is still a key figure in the sector.
Andrew Neilson, director of campaigns for the Howard League, one of the independent groups accused of being a Labour-supporting body by Grayling, was asked recently about the justice secretary's charge against his organisation by MPs on the justice select committee.

"How do you respond to the secretary of state's assertion that the language used by some pressure groups and commentators to talk about prisons ‘bears little relation to reality'? Do you recognise the conclusion that the system is less overcrowded than a decade ago and that assaults are lower than five years ago?"
Neilson answered:

"The secretary of state is certainly an interesting minister, one who clearly takes the view that the best line of defence is attack. Perhaps a more mature public figure would accept informed criticism for what it is. It is not just so-called pressure groups, non-partisan as we are and bound to be so by our charitable status, who have spoken out but key figures in the sector. We are all describing a prison estate that has deteriorated rapidly and significantly."
Grayling has been in trouble in the Lords recently:-
SARAH just ‘another Grayling gimmick’
Lord Beecham then took up the baton describing the Bill as "another Grayling gimmick" and highlighted other issues with which the Lord Chancellor should be more concerned.
"The prisons are in crisis - understaffed, overcrowded, with a rising incidence of self-harm and suicide," he said. "The judiciary complains of the difficulty, delay and cost caused by the increase in unrepresented litigants denied legal aid. The magistracy is greatly concerned about the decline of local justice, exacerbated by court closures and the increasing reliance on professional district judges. An untried and risky change in the probation service is under way, beset by the loss of experienced staff and reports of confusion and disorganisation. The Lord Chancellor's response is what can only be described as another Grayling gimmick." 
According to the bosses at NPS, everything's just going swimmingly:-
Directors’ update

Last week, the preferred bidders for the Community Rehabilitation 
Companies were announced. This week there was one revision after 
the Ministry of Justice was unable to reach an acceptable agreement 
with Geo Mercia Willowdene, the preferred with bidder for Warwickshire & West Yorkshire. The MoJ is now in discussions with EOS, another bidder, and you can read more about this process on the MoJ website.

While the preferred bidder announcement will not affect NPS staff immediately, it was nevertheless an important milestone for the TR Programme to reach and will have been of significant interest to our CRC colleagues. It means that the Programme remains on track.

While there is still plenty of work to be done with preferred bidders before the contracts are signed with the ultimate CRC providers, there is a real breadth of organisations shown in the preferred bidder list. Many of the main or partner bidders will be familiar as organisations we have worked with in our probation work, including of course some mutuals.

Just as important we have been able to report to Ministers that our key performance indicators continue to be maintained and that performance against new processes, in particular CAS and RSR recording is continuing to increase in line with the trajectory we have set. Thank you all for your efforts on this. Another piece of good news, 276 PQF trainees started at the end of October demonstrating our commitment to the future – both NPS and CRCs.

There has always been a tradition of probation being a learning service and one where we are reflective about what we do. The learning we have had to go through in recent months has been steep and at a time when everyone has been extremely busy.

The improvements in our performance indicators and our collective ability to resolve the issues we have come up against reflects this learning culture and the professionalism of everybody involved in probation. We both thank you all that you are doing.

Colin Allars, Director of Probation
Sarah Payne, Director NOMS in Wales
Looking at the wider picture, the Guardian highlights that talk of even greater public spending cuts is causing unrest within Tory ranks:-
Treasury asks top civil servants to find £30bn in public service cuts
Whitehall’s most senior mandarins have been asked by the Treasury to draw up details of how an extra £25bn-£30bn in public spending cuts could be imposed a year after the next general election, according to cabinet insiders.
The cuts being sought from permanent secretaries would cover the two years after the existing agreed spending review period comes to an end in April 2016, and so would cover the financial years 2016-17 and 2017-18.
It had been known spending cuts of this order would be required in the two years as part of the Treasury deficit-reduction plan, but it had not been known that the Treasury was already seeking detailed examples of proposed cuts. An indication of government thinking is expected in the autumn statement on 3 December.
Some cabinet ministers are aghast that plans are being drawn up privately for cuts going so deep into the next parliament and believe a public debate should be under way now rather than make plans in private before the election. “We need a public debate around all this, and not for this to be decided in a private conversation between the treasury and the civil service,” a source said.
Finally, an academic at Sheffield University explains why the next general election is heading into uncharted waters and that the public are at last showing signs of being fed up with neoliberalism:-
What does all of this add up to? It is obvious: a political economy that has failed its people and a politics that is lashing about wildly trying to develop a coherent response. Politics is always fundamentally a politics of political economy – the play of agents responding to and seeking to manage structural changes in society and the economy. This is the politics that we need now to be talking about in Britain. Everything else is either fluff or derivative of this core crisis.
One final point, a point of conjecture still at this moment: do these various trends show that, at last, neoliberalism is unravelling in Britain, and unravelling, what is more, from below? Many have noted that the anticipated anti-neoliberal moment did not occur after 2008-9; instead, the mainstream political elite turned to either the actual pursuit of neoliberal austerity (the Conservatives and Lib Dems) or its mimicry (Labour). However, in politics change often begins at the bottom and forces its way to the political surface. Possibly, just possibly, the British people in their apparently contradictory reactions to the crisis are now signalling that they have had enough of neoliberalism and want something that actually delivers to their aspirations and needs. 


  1. Liam Fox's observations just now on R4 were telling - saying this Govt have made UK an attractive place for overseas businesses to invest, because deregulation and access to the European market means those businesses know its a very profitable and worthwhile investment. In effect, the UK is being asset stripped at this Govt's invitation.

    As has been said many times on this blog, the demolition of probation is but one small strand of the noose this Govt has placed around the neck of the UK.

  2. Is it today that the cooling off period ends. What happens now.

  3. If it's true, as Allars, says, that performance has been maintained and the performance in new processes is improving in line with expectations, then are complaints about chaos and meltdown subjective and unrepresentative?

    1. Performance has only been maintained because we change the dates on an oays if it is out of time. Simple. We've probably got 1000's of these with dates changed. Allars you know this and are full of shit.

  4. It's a deceit. Performance targets were amended to ensure they were met so no-one could say that TR compromised performance. Sleight of hand, a long standing strategy within the prison service. Count the beans differently and you meet the target. Great way of avoiding having to actually DO anything.

    1. They got rid of a number of performance targets recently, no where near as many as we used to have. Can someone confirm?

  5. I do not think any one will take Grayling's so called 'cooling off' date as anything but a gesture as the dates for the TR process have repeatedly slipped and been manipulated.

    Was it not by autumn 2014 that the commercial owners should be in control of the CRCs so that TR had six months to 'bed in' before the general election?

    Then there was the Through the Gate scheme - are the 30 resettlement prisons all transferring the under 12 months sentenced prisoners, three months in advance of release yet?

    And how is the recruitment of the 'old lag' mentors going. Those people Grayling assured us would make at least one pre-release visit to every under 12 months prisoner and then be at the gate at the time they are released to escort them to any accommodation needed?

    Was it decided that 'old lag' volunteers lacking private transport (there is also the Insurance arrangements to fix if they are going to transport supervisees in their vehicles) - will be paid an overnight stay when the prison is not reachable by public transport in time for the 8.30am ish release times?

    When will the stupid Offender Rehabilitation Act be implemented and much of the sentencing responsibilities of the courts be handed to the CRC staff - I am sure Grayling said it would all be running by now!

    It is utter nonsense - some who take the parliament whip for the LibDems & Conservatives in the Houses of Commons and Lords need to start speaking out quickly if they are not to individually look as ridiculous as Grayling, Selous, Hughes and the fleeing McNally before him!

    Meanwhile; remember, if the MOJ were able to fudge the 'final' date for preferred bidder applications - and they did, and the actual meaning of the term 'preferred bidder' - and they did - will they not also fudge any 'cooling off' date?

    Such an idea is nonsense anyway as a contract is not a contract until it is actually signed - so effectively I think the real last date (I recollect we were told) is the 17th December, unless the election date changes or the Courts intervene.

    The campaign against TR and for the reunification of probation governed locally by public organisations is FAR FROM OVER!

    That greedy Serco are into difficulty as a company brings just a small half-cheer, but it is surely a sign that taking on such complex public contracts is risk free and that the companies have the know how to make it work.

    Even the "Managing Director of Serco Welfare to Work from 2007 to 2011" advised great caution and pointed out some risks long ago.


    1. CORRECTION: -

      " it is surely NOT a sign that taking on such complex public contracts is risk free

    2. It certainly wont be risk free. Whilst I applaud the enthusiasm and professionalism of some volunteers. I am also concerned about thé volunteers/mentors who have not received sufficient training regarding risk and boundaries when working with our client group. A volunteer gave out her personal phone number and was receiving innapropriate texts and calls.

  6. Meanwhile the Probation Institute's 'Ethics' are so wobbly they use Scrabble letters so they can rearrange them after the next go!



    " HOUSE OF COMMONS TODAY: - 12pm Oral Questions #Justice; including Topical Questions


    #Probation #Prisons #CAFCASS "

    1. so far only one question on state of Probation as it is now - from Durham MP- re the complaints from Prob staff in her constituency, on the chaos, risk to staff and to public etc etc - succinct but was not put forward with passion, and CG's response was to ask why was the Service happy to choose and accept bids from expert private companies, in contrast to the complaints which she was receiving. He's now rabbitting on about the new Act when prisoners will have a close relationship with people who will support, rather than what has previously happened. Talking about Paul McDowell now, can't stand this weaselling smug lying creep! - CG not P Mcd, Now going on about Sadiq khan and mobile story.....

  8. There are details that are incorrect in your submission, Andrew. ORA stuff will not be retrospective so only offenders who offend AFTER it's implementation will ne subject to its requirements i.e no big bang. Services will grow rather than needing to be ready for day one. That is not to say that they will be ready for what comes. They won't be because the prisons won't be but the crash will be slow and prolonged rather than immediate.

    1. Thanks for the reminder about not being retrospective - sorry I did not make that clear, I had forgotten that.

      However I read somewhere that Grayling did announce Prisons were already being reorganised to cope with transfers to a local prison three months before release, I assumed he would want to enable all short sentence prisoners to benefit as soon as possible from aspects that do not need the contracting out to have started.

      (Grayling's comments about the South Wales case in House of Commons today - check Hansard - may also have some impact here with regard to prisoners NOT eligible to be on licence whatever their sentence length.

      What makes a nonsense of TR is that his whole justification for it is the amount of reoffending and the priority to support/supervise u12month length sentence prisoners and the fact he said previously it would have started by now.

      There is still also the issue - of how will it work out in practice when the courts order a RAR (Rehabilitation Activity Requirement) and leave the supervisors to get on with it thereby If I am understanding correctly transferring a judicial function from the Judiciary to the Executive AND/OR Contractors working for the Executive.

  9. It is quite extraordinary that Allars and Payne have issued a document that indicates no fall off in performance. So how have all the practitioners who contribute here got it so wrong? We do the job, we are having to cope in this chaos and now we learn that we are liars too.

    1. The number of people that have left the service and the high levels of sick leave throughout the service aswell as the documentation being presented by judical review tell a very different tale.
      But remember theres no crisis in the prison system either despite a vast amount of evidence to the contorary.

    2. The Allars piece is incredibly patronising – the cheap rhetoric about being a 'learning service', as though TR was nothing more than a comprehension test, nothing to do with deep unease about the direction of travel and the fact that a JR has been submitted. In effect the Allars note tells you everything about his arrogant mindset. He is a cynical propagandist for the MoJ and his contempt for the workforce is palpable. What a shame the MoJ isn't a learning service, as maybe then it wouldn't waste millions on IT failures, wouldn't be fiddled left, right and centre by Serco and friends; and would actually listen to what criminal justice professionals say about TR. Allars knows all this but follows the democratic orders of his ideological boss. I understand these motivations and excuses, but sometimes, surely, conscience must kick in. I remember Spurr at an AGM a couple of years back justifying what he was doing by reference to the democratic mandate of ministers. The fact that he made this reference at all was because he could not stand in front of an audience and say I believe in what I am doing. And it's probably the same with Allars – 'Allars', as Harry Enfield might say: 'Shut up!'

    3. "Allars knows all this but follows the democratic orders of his ideological boss". Yes, exactly. Shock, horror! He is a civil servant. His job is to implement the policy of the democratically elected government. That is exactly how it should be in a democracy. Like it or not, we have a system in which democratically elected politicians decide on public policy, not professionals (with all their vested interests) who noone elected and who are accountable to noone...

  10. With reference to 11:39.

    the crash will be slow and prolonged rather than immediate.

    The contracts contain a 10 year 'poison pill' clause. Maybe all bidders, before they sign on the dotted line, should take time to consider just who is being given this poison pill.
    Its only the consequences for the probation service and future governments thats been pubically discussed. But whats the consequences for bidders if they find themselves unable to deliver on contract after say 3 years?
    Its not just a singular poison pill, Graylings got a bag full, and he's handing them out like Es at a rave.
    Tread careful.

  11. The Probation Institute has much in common with TR – they were both imposed by elites, although at least with TR there was a bogus consultation exercise; they attract no popular support; they are indifferent to criticisms: TR thinks it performing well and the PI is 'the go to place'. The PI was bankrolled by the TR enthusiasts, and lacking any independence or legitimacy, it looks the other way as the probation service is vandalised. What is the point of an organisation and all it's purported
    ethics and values if it looks the other way when it knows that the TR model has a highly dubious evidence base, is refusing to disclose risk assessments of potential dangers and is fragmenting an award winning service. Now, wouldn't you think the PI would have something to say? The PI is a hobby horse – a little earner of money and status for the few. What did the PI do to save probation? Nothing – because it's part of the superstructure of TR.

    1. As much as I am behind NAPO in the campaign about TR - I have to agree with above comment.

  12. Just received an email in a Manchester office stating all NPS staff who have written more than 2 PSR's per month since Sept to be paid for overtime for the extra reports. Naturally I asked if CRC staff who have been writing reports up to 1/11/2014 would be treated the same, as usual no one knows. Is this happening in other areas.

  13. Do you think this is a cynical attempt to buy you off? This blog seems to have a lot of negative comments from Manchester, just wondering what the motive for this is?

    1. Motive or an expression of reality?

    2. Allars: motive or an expression of reality? It's 'negative' in Manchester and elsewhere - so why be confounded? The positive comments come from Allars et al and the negative comments come from the workforce. Maybe this suggests there are two realities!

  14. There is no motive, just saying it as it is, and if we had anything positive to say we would. And yes it is dreadful in Manchester so why should people not highlight it. I thought that was what the fight was about to let people know what an utter disgrace it is the way the staff and service has been treated.

    1. Totally agree with both comments above - why should any member feel the need to withhold what is reality for them

  15. Off topic but I think it should be read.
    How can you cover a crisis in the prison caused by Grayling, when the prison Governor is in the wittness box under oath?
    Please read on.


    1. A lesson in what happens when prison regimes turn the screw. As the governor noted in his evidence the prison department admitted it got things wrong in staff reductions and this made the prison volatile, unsafe and dysfunctional.

    2. So despite the shite they feed the public and accounts committees, the accusations of left wing propaganda, the MoJ are very aware of the dangerous enviornment they are creating.
      The MoJ have actually published statements specifically about High Down, denying anything was wrong. Bastards.

  16. http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/nov/11/prisoners-phone-calls-mps-monitored-grayling

    1. Confidential telephone calls between prisoners and at least 32 current MPs or their staff have been recorded, and in some cases listened to, by prison staff, the justice secretary, Chris Grayling, has revealed.

      He also disclosed that confidential calls between prisoners and their lawyers have been monitored in at least a “handful of cases”.

      The chief of inspector of prisons, Nick Hardwick, has been asked to investigate the scale and extent of the problem. At least one phone call to the office of the current Liberal Democrat justice minister, Simon Hughes, has been monitored as well as five or six calls to the office of Jack Straw when he was justice secretary.

      Grayling said he was only told late last week about the problem, which he said stretched from 2006 to autumn 2012 when changes were made to tighten up the system of monitoring prisoners’ phone calls.

      The justice secretary apologised to the Commons for “any interception of communications between a prisoner and their constituency MP” but insisted that the “unacceptable” monitoring had been accidental rather than any intentional strategy by the prison service to listen in to calls.

      He said that in 18 of the 32 cases involving existing MPs the prisoner had not listed the number as confidential and so no action had been taken to prevent the call being recorded. In a further 15 cases, the numbers were correctly identified as MPs’ offices but prison staff had failed to take the necessary action to stop them being recorded. One MP fell into both categories.

      Grayling said: “I have as yet seen no evidence that information was passed on to anyone else. I don’t believe this was part of a concerted attempt to monitor. It was simply part of the routine checking of this process to make sure nothing untoward was going on. But, clearly, it’s something I’ll be asking Nick Hardwick to confirm.”

      Since the changes to the phone monitoring system two years ago only calls to one MP clearly identified on prison lists had been recorded, he added. Before 2012, any prisoner who did not present a specific security risk could call any telephone number that had not already been barred from their pin account. Barred numbers included those of their victims.

      The chief inspector of prisons said he would start his investigation immediately. Hardwick said: “The interception of telephone calls from prisoners to constituency MPs’ offices or other privileged communication is a very serious matter. I will begin work today to urgently review the steps the National Offender Management Service have taken to prevent this from happening in future. I will also independently investigate what has happened in the past and will report fully on the facts of what has occurred and my recommendations to the secretary of state.”

      The extent of the monitoring of confidential calls has been established by an initial audit of MPs’ office phone numbers against the call records of the prisoners. No breakdown by individual prison has yet been made.

      Straw, who was justice secretary from 2007 to 2010, also apologised to MPs for what had happened during his watch. He revealed that “five or six” of the monitored calls had been made to his office while he was in charge of prisons from inmates who had not identified themselves as serving prisoners.

  17. Anyone left in doubt about what will happen post share sale, read this.


    1. According to PCS, SSCL have told civil servants currently overseeing payroll, personnel and finance for the department, courts, prison and probation services, and the Home Office, that they intend to launch voluntary exit schemes to staff “imminently”.

      An MoJ spokesperson said: "We are transforming our IT and back office contracts to ensure they provide the best possible value for taxpayers.

      "Following a competitive process the Department has awarded a seven year contract to Shared Services Connected Limited to provide HR, payroll and other services to more than 65,000 of our staff.”

      Speaking to CSW, a PCS spokesperson expressed concern over the speed at which voluntary exit plans have been mentioned to staff following the outsourcing contract and in particular expressed fears that civil servants working in the Bootle office will feel pressured to leave before they have found another civil service job.

      In July of this year, civil servants from the Newport and Bootle offices went on strike over fears that outsourcing the centres would lead to job losses and PCS wrote to MoJ permanent secretary Ursula Brennan to raise concerns about the move to hand sensitive data over to a private company.

      A PCS spokesperson said: "This is a deeply worrying time for staff who have been transferred to a private company against their will, when all they wanted was to remain in the civil service and carry on working to support their colleagues.”

      SSCL is a joint venture between the Cabinet Office and majority-owner Steria, a multinational IT firm, which was established in November 2013.

      The MoJ spokesperson explained: "This is a crucial move to modernise our ageing back office functions that will save taxpayers more than £100m over the next seven years," And added: “Staff will have their current terms, conditions and pensions transferred to their new employer. Their jobs will be protected for at least 12 months."

  18. Ah well, my hours & hours of goodwill working are gone forever. NPS colleagues allegedly being rewarded with additional payments in one area for JUST DOING their job; yet 20+ years service with maybe 20 unpaid hours of weekly work means fuck all. The job was never about collecting cool points or being a jobsworth; peoples' lives had meaning. To spend time with someone grieving or needing to talk until 9pm was not u realistic or weird.

    But in the new order, write more than 500 words and you've hit the jackpot!