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NHS / PFI ? The Chickens Are Coming Home To Roost ... At OUR Expense ! - Page 3 - Carers UK Forum

NHS / PFI ? The Chickens Are Coming Home To Roost ... At OUR Expense !

Discuss news stories and political issues that affect carers.
I just don't see why the government doesn't unilaterally impose a 'you've had enough money from the taxpayers!' dictat on the PFI providers.

They just need to pull the plug once and for all on this.

Any private company signing such a contract as the government signed would be bankrupt by now.

The theory behind outsourcing is simple: that outside private sector suppliers can provide better value for money on goods and services than the state.

PFI became popular because it was a way for government to bring private companies and capital into the provision of essential infrastructure, such as hospitals and schools.

Government contracts are big business. And investing in infrastructure, including schools – to nurture a new generation of skilled workers – transport and health is vitally important if the UK is to thrive after Brexit.

Yet it is clear that things have gone very badly wrong.

The companies themselves cite Brexit as a factor, but there is much more to it than that.

Interserve sold its stakes in PFI projects some years ago but the initiative continues to cast a shadow.

A report from the National Audit Office earlier this year found the cost of PFI deals were up to 40 per cent higher than using government money alone, and that taxpayers will have to hand over £200billion to contractors over the next 25 years.

In one shocking example, it found that Liverpool City Council could be paying sums adding up to around £47million by 2027-28 when the PFI contract ends for a ‘ghost school’, Parklands High, which is now empty.

Former Mitie chief, Baroness McGregor-Smith stepped aside in 2016, having been paid nearly £2.5m in her last year in the job

The school, in the down-at-heel suburb of Speke, was shut in 2014 after a poor Ofsted inspection. It cost £24million to build.

If the taxpayer is being short-changed, so are shareholders in the outsourcing companies, which have been struggling to rebuild their bombed out balance sheets.

Take Capita. It is one of the top three strategic suppliers to the Government, operating the Jobseeker’s Allowance helpline and the admin of the teachers’ pension scheme.

It made losses of £513million in 2017 and, just a fortnight after Carillion’s collapse, turned to shareholders for £700million of new capital in a rights issue.

The company brought in respected former PwC boss Sir Ian Powell as chairman in 2016 and chief executive Jonathan Lewis the following year, to sort it out.

Capita has an unflattering nickname involving an extra ‘r’ and last month earned more bad publicity when, in its capacity as an NHS contractor, it failed to send out letters to women on cervical cancer screening.

The firm said the risk to the women involved is low and apologised.

But episodes like this are grist to the mill of critics, who have plenty of ammunition.

The sector is littered with examples of fat-cat pay, poor delivery, takeover sprees and aggressive accounting combined with some supine auditing by the likes of KPMG, which checked the books at Carillion.

The sector has had a shake-out at the top in the past couple of years. Before the problems came fully to light, however, former bosses made large sums.

At Capita, the erstwhile chief executive Andy Parker took home £5.7million in his three years in charge.

Interserve’s former chief executive Adrian Ringrose was handed more than £15million between 2004 and his departure in 2017.

Eyebrows are also being raised over the role of Lord Blackwell, who chaired Interserve for around a decade at a fee that rose to £165,000 a year.

At Mitie, the former chief, Baroness McGregor-Smith stepped aside in 2016, having been paid nearly £2.5million in her last full year in the job and around £14m since 2010.

It has seen its shares fall by a third this year. As for G4S, it has been in the news over HMP Birmingham, which it used to run.

The prison was taken back into government control in the summer after an inspection found inmates high on drugs and described the facility as ‘exceptionally violent’ and a ‘war zone’.

Chief executive Ashley Almanza, brought in after his predecessor was ousted when G4S botched security for the 2012 Olympics, has taken home more than £15million in pay and bonuses since 2013.

The company’s £379,000 a year chairman is former Deloitte big cheese John Connolly, who was criticised by the accountancy watchdogs over his role in the Barlow Clowes affair, a huge savings scandal in the 1980s.

Serco, led by Rupert Soames, saw profits double in the first half of this year to £25.6million, though this is a far cry from 2012 when profits before tax were more than £300million.

Soames has championed reforms for the sector, in particular ‘living wills’ which companies, including his own, are drawing up to make sure public services can still be delivered if they go under.

Labour’s retrograde solution is to take it all back into state hands.

The Government wants to use private contracts as a force for good by creating jobs and apprenticeships and helping revitalise local economies, which is a much better idea.

It will only happen if we have a proper robust supervision regime, stronger auditing, and a safety net to protect tax payers and users of vital services if a firm does go bust. After Brexit, we can’t afford to get this wrong.
Slight detour but ... all the makings of a classic ???

Ramsgate " Cannot be ready " for Brexit ferries.

The Port of Ramsgate "can not be ready" for extra ferry services in the event of a no-deal Brexit, according to the councillor for the harbour area.

Seaborne Freight has been given a £13.8m contract to run a freight service between Ramsgate and Ostend in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

However, Conservative councillor Beverly Martin says the harbour can not be ready by Brexit on 29 March.

The government said facilities will be open "as soon as practicable".

In a statement the Department for Transport said that "works are underway".

Ramsgate has not had a regular ferry service since 2013.

Seaborne's contract was one of three awarded to ease "severe congestion" at Dover, in the case of a no-deal Brexit.

The contingency plans allow for almost 4,000 more lorries a week to come and go from other ports, including Plymouth, Poole, and Portsmouth.

In total the contracts are worth £103m.

"From local knowledge, there is terrific concern that we [ Ramsgate Port ] can not possibly by ready. There isn't the width or the breadth of the berths that is needed to carry large ships," the councillor said.

"I don't see how, with the state of the harbour and the port and the number of repairs that are needed that it could be ready."

No emails

Ms Martin also said there had been no contact with the council about opening the harbour for larger freight ships.

"We didn't have any notification of any this at our council meeting on 6 December. Why not? This is my ward. I have not had a single email from anybody."

"If someone can show me how the due diligence was carried out, if someone can show me evidence on paper I shall feel a lot more comfortable," she told the BBC's Broadcasting House.

The Department for Transport said it had been in dialogue with Thanet Council, which owns the port, for a couple years, and dismissed allegations that local residents had not been consulted as "complete nonsense".

Seaborne's deal to run freight services from Ramsgate has been criticised as the company has never run a ferry service and does not own any ships.

Last week the company was ridiculed for using terms and conditions on its website apparently intended for a takeaway food firm.

Perhaps a few of those D-Day landing crafts gathering rust somewhere ?
Yep , brewing nicely ... just add a little salt and then step back ... a hundred yards ... quickly ?

" Impossible " for Seaborne's Brexit port to be ready for March.

The mayor of Ostend has told the BBC the Belgian port will not be ready for a new ferry line in time for Brexit.

Bart Tommelein was asked about the UK government's award of a £13.8m contract to Seaborne Freight for a service between Ramsgate and Ostend.

He said it was "impossible" that Ostend would be ready and that he was going to Ramsgate next week to discuss the situation with "all the stakeholders".

His remarks came as Transport Secretary Chris Grayling again defended the deal.
Government outsourcing firm Interserve faces administration.

Directors of the company, that employs 45,000 people in the UK, have told the BBC the firm has "a mountain to climb" to prevent it collapsing under the weight of its nearly £650m in debt.

A plan to swap the majority of that debt for new shares requires the support of more than 50% of the shareholders and the company's biggest shareholder - US hedge fund Coltrane which owns 27% - is currently dead set against the plan.

Since many small shareholders don't vote - even in a crisis like this - the support of Coltrane is seen as crucial in getting the deal through.

The board's plan would see current shareholders awarded 5% of the company - with the rest going to the creditors.

It is tempting to see Interserve as the next Carillion.

An-overly indebted private provider of public services going to the wall after years of suicide bidding to win government contracts at the same time as paying out big salaries and dividends.

While there are similarities, there are important differences.

Piece-meal sale?

If the company collapses on Friday - this is what will happen.

Accountants EY will be appointed administrators, they will then sell the company for a nominal amount to the current lenders (a mixture of banks and bond holders) who will own 100% of the new company.

The board then expects those lenders to sell the business units off piece-meal.

The board does not expect any interruption to the company's underlying contracts or any immediate job losses.

The real impact will be on the debate over the appropriateness of using big private sector contractors to carry out essential public service work.

Game of chicken?

The government has been monitoring the Interserve situation closely and while it has felt unable to award a company close to collapse much new work, the Cabinet Office and the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy are comfortable services won't be interrupted.

In fact, Interserve - minus its crippling debts - will arguably be in one of the strongest financial positions of any outsourcer.

There may yet be a last-minute deal to save the company.

It is after all a curious game of chicken. If Coltrane insists on blocking the deal - it will get zero rather than the teaspoon of value its being offered under the board's plan.

The biggest loser - apart from the shareholders - will be the reputation of an outsourcing business model that will doubtless once again become a political football.