Socialist Worker

The Troublemaker—For Serco test failures the profits are still world-beating

Issue No. 2727

Serco are handed over millions of taxpayers money for their different ventures

Serco are handed over millions of taxpayers' money for their different ventures (Pic: Wikicommons)


Outsourcing firm Serco has announced its profits are set to soar after being paid to operate NHS Test and Trace in England.

Its shares soared 17 percent on the news as bosses claimed “our operational delivery has been outstanding”.

In an unplanned update to the London Stock Exchange, Serco said it had achieved strong revenue growth in the three months from July. It highlighted extensions to contracts to provide test sites and call handlers.

Bosses said this was “an indication of our customer’s satisfaction with the quality of work we have delivered” as part of test and trace.

The statement also pointed to “increases in the number of asylum seekers we are looking after” and developments on Caledonian Express sleepers—where there have been strikes.

Serco expects a trading profit up to £165 million, compared with previous estimates of at least £135 million.

Serco was handed £108 million of taxpayers’ cash to set up contract tracing call centres. Its contract was then extended in August which could see the firm handed up to £410 million extra.

The department of health gave a £280,000 consulting contract to the family business of a top City executive who had been given an unpaid public sector role running coronavirus testing centres.

Debbie White, former chief executive of collapsed outsourcer Interserve, was recruited in March to coordinate a network of testing centres. The role was described as voluntary.

Documents reviewed by the Financial Times newspaper show that a family business set up by White and her husband was given the £280,000 consulting contract as she took on her unpaid role.

Management consultants are being paid as much as £6,250 a day to work on the government’s struggling coronavirus testing system.

Senior executives from Boston Consulting Group are being paid fees equivalent to £1.5 million a year to help speed up and reorganise the network.


  • The Tories have delivered a snub to Britain’s first black archbishop by failing to award him an automatic life peerage.

As Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, should have been given a life peerage after his retirement on 7 June.

However, Number 10 failed to announce his peerage—breaking the precedent set for his two predecessors.


  • Troublemaker reported last month that Tory agent Diana Danescu had been convicted of election fraud.

The article asked, “When an election agent for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition was found guilty of a similar offence he was jailed for 15 months. It will be interesting to see what the Tory gets.”

Now we know. Last week Danescu was given a suspended sentence and won’t spend a day in jail.


Radioactive water set to flow from nuke plant

Japan’s government has reportedly decided to release more than 1 million tonnes of contaminated water from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the sea.

An official decision could come by the end of the month, the Kyodo news agency said.

The government has long wanted to release the water into the Pacific, despite opposition from local fisherfolk.

They say it will add to the damage since an earthquake and tsunami in 2011 led to meltdowns at three of Fukushima’s reactors.

The plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco), estimates all of the available storage tanks will be full by the summer of 2022.

At present over 1.23 million tonnes of water, which becomes contaminated when it mixes with water used to prevent the three damaged reactor cores from melting, were being stored in 1,044 tanks.


Bench and two chairs? It’s £40,000 for royals

Princess Beatrice’s new husband Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi has revealed his expensive taste in furniture and fashion.

Beatrice, you will recall, is the child of prince Andrew and Sarah, duchess of York.

Property developer Mapelli Mozzi lists some of his most treasured possessions in a feature in the Financial Times newspaper.

Mapelli Mozzi, who married princess Beatrice in July, says, “I only buy a few things and I invest in authenticity and quality.”

He goes on to reveal that his most recent favoured purchase was a 1958 two-seat bench with matching chairs costing £40,000.

As well as £300 trainers and £190 shirts, the newest member of the royal family reveals that his favoured design is his company’s own Moto fireplace, called Kwanza”.


Fire advice not used at Grenfell

A project manager involved in the refurbishment of Grenfell Tower has said an expert architect was not appointed to further advise on the project’s design. This was despite advice to do so.

Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (KCTMO) project manager Claire Williams was giving evidence last week to the inquiry into the fire that killed 72 people.

Construction News reports that “consultant Artelia had submitted a proposal to Williams in February 2014, which included the suggestion that one of its architects with 15 years experience could oversee design changes.

“The proposal specifically included reference to the external cladding, and said the CDA would ensure compliance with regulations including fire-safety rules.”

The proposed role would have cost the KCTMO just under £31,000.

Williams denied that the decision not to use a CDA was due to the expense—which Artelia previously claimed when giving evidence to the inquiry.

This was despite an email from Williams, in January 2014, which stated her concern that costs would be impacted by “additional fees on a design adviser”.


No QR codes for Commons

The PCS union has said the authorities were putting workers at risk by ignoring government advice to display QR codes around hospitality venues in the Commons and Lords.

This is despite threats of heavy fines for restaurants, cafes and canteens that fail to display a QR code.

A PCS spokesperson said, “The lack of care for our members’ health and safety increases the likelihood that we will have a serious outbreak of Covid in parliament.”


The things they say

‘What I do hear about QAnon is that they are very strongly against paedophilia, and I agree with that’

Donald Trump on the conspiracy group used by the racist and fascist right

‘85 percent of the people wearing the masks catch it, OK?’’

Trump on coronavirus

‘The quality of the UK’s legislative and executive institutions has diminished in recent years’

Moody’s ratings agency downgrading Britain’s credit score last week

‘I rejoiced with you in your victory against Manchester United’

Recently discovered handwritten letter from Tory leader Margaret Thatcher to Liverpool football club captain Emlyn Hughes in 1978

‘What’s my mum going to say?

The main concern of cop Timothy Brehmer after he strangled Claire Parry in May


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