Those of us who have encountered Serco in a professional capacity will find their contribution to today’s news entirely unsurprising. No more new big contracts from HMG pending the outcome of a big fraud investigation.
The question that glares out is, what took so long? And the answer surely must be a change in attitude somewhere in government. Or more likely, the civil service, who would no doubt thwart the government if they chose to do so. Someone has finally stopped turning a blind eye.
I expect the cloud hanging over G4S is of a very similar nature. And if HMG is really clamping down on abuse of the outsourced-public-services gravy train, there could be a lot more to come.
If this is down to HMG making a serious effort to repair leaks in the public purse then let us applaud and encourage them. They have the advantage that these big companies are unlikely to get much media support, as so easily happens in cases like legal aid or housing subsidies that purport to support “ordinary people” or “the poor”. But at the same time, we must be mindful that any pot of public money is a corruption-magnet, and that which is not cut is sure to find its way to some new rottenness. Just as the outsourcers didn’t invent the gravy-train, but just displaced bloated trade-union-centred rottenness of the pre-Thatcher era.