UNITE is demanding an investigation into the government’s awarding of outsourcing firm Capita a lengthy contract to supply military fire and rescue services despite concerns over the privateer’s financial health.
Unite’s call followed an urgent question in the Commons from Labour, which accused the government of overseeing an “outsourcing racket.”
Shadow defence minister Fabian Hamilton questioned why the Ministry of Defence (MoD) awarded the 12-year contract to run 70 fire stations worldwide to Capita, after the department received advice that the firm had a sky-high risk score.
He said that 12 years was too long a contract given the risks and that fire workers will be “very worried indeed” about Capita managing the service.
Labour previously spoke out against Capita taking it on after the MoD stripped it of a £400 million military estate maintenance contract over concerns raised by government spending watchdog the National Audit Office.
Mr Hamilton added: “The government’s ideologically driven approach of outsourcing services at any cost has simply failed.
“I believe we should end the racket of outsourcing, and deliver solutions that benefit taxpayers and service users alike.”
Unite national officer Jim Kennedy said: “The complacency displayed by government ministers is simply staggering.
“There needs to be an investigation into how Capita can be awarded such a sensitive and important contract despite being graded the highest financial risk possible in the government’s own assessment.
“The award of this contact risks our defence and points to a government that is willing to carry on with the outsourcing racket at all costs.
“Ministers need to learn the lessons of the Carillion collapse and call time on the outsourcing gravy train that puts our public services at risk.”
Defence Minister Tobias Ellwood claimed that Capita’s bid was subject to “robust” scrutiny by his department, the Cabinet and the Treasury.
He said around 600 civilian workers will be transferred across from the Defence Fire and Rescue Service.
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