Tories don’t understand money – possibly because their party is run by entitled fools who have so much money, they don’t know what to do with it.
The cluelessness bleeds into government, despite the fact that – in public service – the Tories should have the benefit of impartial advice.
But we see, here, that two of their advisors – Richard Heaton, permanent secretary at the Ministry of Justice, and Michael Spurr, chief executive of the Prison and Probation Service – are to appear before the Commons Public Accounts Committee to explain why they have allowed the Tories to spend nearly £2.5 billion letting private companies into the probation service – that cannot do the job.
Perhaps it’s different in Westminster, but in the United Kingdom This Writer inhabits, if you take money to do a job and don’t actually do it, you’re in breach of contract.
Sure, and part of the disaster was caused by HMG. The idea was to give 21 companies £3.7 billion until 2022 to handle and help prisoners serving 12 months or more who are at low risk of self-harm.
But it seems people like Messrs Heaton and Spurr had overestimated the number of low risk ex-offenders leaving prison and underestimated the number of high risk ex-offenders who are still being helped by the publicly run probation service
It means the private companies were dealing with fewer people, so they’d get less money – £1.6 billion less. This put them in financial difficulty.
It also transpires that these companies were also complete and utter failures at the job – so bad, according to inspectors, that they may as well not exist.
So why has the Tory government agreed to spend £342 million keeping them in business and in-contract?
The state should be demanding its money back from these privateers. They’re in breach of contract.
It should seem bizarre to anyone that the government is throwing good money after bad in this way.
All should become clear when it is revealed that the government minister behind this disaster – Secretary of State for Justice at the time the contracts were awarded – was walking disaster Chris Grayling.
On Wednesday two very highly paid civil servants – £185,000 a year Richard Heaton, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Justice and £190,000 a year Michael Spurr, Chief Executive, HM Prison and Probation Service – will appear before MPs to explain their latest botch-up – the privatisation failure of parts of the probation service.
I hope MPs on the Commons Public Accounts Committee will not only be briefed by the excellent National Audit Office report and investigation into the failure of Community Rehabilitation Companies – the fancy name for profit making companies like Sodexo and Seetec.
They should also read the coruscating report by Dame Glenys Stacey HM Chief Inspector of Probation and Peter Clarke HM Chief Inspector of Prisons last June on the performance of these companies and their failure to either help ex offenders go straight or protect the public from child abusers and perpetrators of domestic violence.
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