POA Circulars

7 | 16.01.2018


The POA have some members within the 52 Prisons affected by the Compulsory Liquidation of Carillion who were awarded a contract in 2014 worth several hundred million pounds to carry out facilities management services commencing June 2015 such as checking fire equipment, CCTV, repairing showers and checking for legionella. Further work included planned maintenance, variable maintenance including vandalism repairs and project services with some soft services such as cleaning and landscaping.

The POA have always been opposed to the contracting out of these vital services to both Carillion and Amey, but Senior HMPPS staff stated over the contract there would be savings of approximately £115 million. This has proved not to be the case because it is clear due diligence was not done on costings for the work. This was exactly the same scenario as the Review of the Works Departments (ROWD) in the year 2000 when cuts were made stating it would save money by getting rid of works officers and civilianising in total. That was shortsighted and didn’t realise the savings then, but this has been far worse. It is regrettable that Senior Managers and Government do not learn lessons from past failures.

Reports in National media in July 2017 claimed that senior sources in the Ministry of Justice admitted these savings would not materialise. The Public Accounts Committee also stated that these contracts would not see the savings as first identified. Yet to date no one has been held accountable in Government or indeed the Ministry of Justice.

POA members would have seen recent reports in the media regarding the collapse of Carillion with spiraling debts on multiple contracts of £900 million and a £590 million pension deficit.

This was a disaster waiting to happen and the POA like many other Unions who have members in Carillion were once again ignored when the warning signs were all too clear. This simply didn’t happen overnight and clearly due diligence must be the focus of attention when this large contract was awarded only two years ago. The most important issue is to ensure that those who work for Carillion are paid and their pensions secured. Our concern is rightly with our members not the Carillion Directors or Shareholders. We will continue to engage with our Employer, but will insist the work is now brought back in house where it rightly should be and should never have been contracted out in the first place.

The Prison Service is currently in crisis and this new scandal will not help. The facilities management work is vital and the POA want work done on time to ensure that our members and those in our care are kept safe.

It also has to be questioned why large contracts not just in Prisons but the NHS, rail infrastructure, the building industry and the education sector were awarded to a company who had to apologise in Court for blacklisting workers who raised concerns about health and safety issues in the construction industry. They destroyed some workers lives and indeed their families.

There should be a public inquiry into the awarding of these contracts to Carillion and Government and those responsible should be held to account.

The POA NEC will keep you informed of developments with regards to this issue as it unfolds.

Yours sincerely

Steve Gillan
General Secretary