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ACTIVISTS across England rallied yesterday against plans to hand more money to the privateers running the government’s botched Covid-19 test-and-trace scheme.
Demonstrators took to the streets in centres ranging from Liverpool to Leamington, Sheffield to Stroud and Bristol to Brixton in the action organised by the We Own It campaign, which advocates for public ownership and fights against privatisation.
In Sheffield, local Labour MP Olivia Blake addressed the crowds, while Unite thanked its members for participating in rallies, tweeting: “Not a penny more to Serco. Give local public teams the cash!”
The government allocated £10 billion for its “world-beating” test-and-trace system and hundreds of millions of pounds have since been handed out to its private-sector cronies to run it.
The government has allocated another £528 million in taxpayers’ cash to extend the programme when contracts run out on August 23 and the privateers are poised for a fresh handout.
We Own It campaigner Pascale Robinson said: “It’s been absolutely fantastic to see people in nearly 20 cities across England standing up and saying that not a penny more should be given to [Serco].
“The public are crystal clear: Serco should be nowhere near our public services. The company has an atrocious track record — especially in the test-and-trace system, where it’s been sitting comfortably on over £100m of public cash and failing to deliver.
“Now is the time to say enough is enough. The government must end its contract and give the money to local public health protection teams to run test and trace now.”
Campaigners called for the new contracts to be allocated to local authorities in partnership with the NHS, and not to the incompetent privateers.
Serco has a damning record of fraud and incompetence in taking over public services.
It had to pay fines and costs of more than £20m for fraudulently claiming taxpayers’ cash while operating electronic tagging of individuals on behalf of the Ministry of Justice.
The company was also fined £6.8m for failures in its provision of housing for asylum-seekers between April 2013 and December 2018, but has since been handed a major government contract to manage properties occupied by asylum-seekers.
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