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Capita runs London’s congestion charge scheme [Image: Reuters].

Of course we shouldn’t gloat about financial troubles that will affect thousands of people’s jobs.

But Capita is responsible for assessing the fitness for work of thousands upon thousands of benefit claimants, with targets (hidden by the government) to knock a huge proportion of people off the books, so maybe we can be forgiven in this instance.

At mandatory reconsideration, we know that the Tory government set an 80 per cent target for refusal of benefits.

That means thousands of innocent people have suffered for no reason – many of them to their deaths. If the current situation means the assessors who inflicted that suffering get to experience some of it, who can call that anything other than poetic justice?

The company has announced plans to add £700 million to its bank balance. Is this to make up for the now-axed dividend scheme that gave £500 million to shareholders?

What were company execs thinking, when they devised that scheme in the first place? That the government’s magic money tree would keep producing the cash they were funnelling to their rich shareholders?

And was Capita carrying out the same wheeze as Carillion – under-bidding for new government contracts and using the money it received to pay for the old ones?

And what about the firm’s pension fund?

Here‘s Frank Field, chairman of the Commons Work and Pensions committee:

“Another day, another outsourcing firm with massive debt, a huge pension deficit, a KPMG audit and the Big Four popping up at every turn in the company’s chequered history.

“Sadly, Capita goes on the growing list of firms we are investigating to see if their conduct has endangered current and future pensioners’ rights.”

So: First Carillion collapsed. Now both Interserve (remember them?) and Capita are in trouble.

Who’s next? And what will happen to public services while the Tories dither over this crisis?

More than £1bn was wiped off the stock market value of the government contractor Capita on Wednesday, sparking fears of job losses.

Capita, whose major contracts range from collecting the BBC licence fee to electronic tagging of prisoners, saw its share price nearly halve in a day following a grim financial update that reignited concerns over the outsourcing industry and the stability of public services.

Capita’s shares plunged 47.5%, cutting its stock market value by £1.1bn, after new chief executive Jonathan Lewis stunned markets by admitting the company’s finances were in a dire state and announcing drastic measures to repair them.

Lewis, appointed in October last year, downgraded Capita’s profit forecasts and announced plans to raise £700m to shore up its balance sheet. He also axed a dividend that had been worth more than £500m to investors over the past three years.

A cost-cutting programme is expected to result in job losses among Capita’s 67,000 employees, 50,000 of whom are in the UK, while parts of the business will be sold to raise cash.

Source: Capita: almost £1bn wiped off value of UK government contractor | Business | The Guardian


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