A Shadow Minister has urged the government to justify the £108m it gave to private company Serco for its involvement in the national track and trace operation, which has been widely attacked as a failure.
Suspicions of impropriety surrounding Serco’s contract were raised after Shadow Health Minister, Justin Madders, became privy to an email that showed the company were approached by Public Health England as far back as January, despite the fact it was not officially hired until May.
Speaking to the Guardian, Madders said the leaked memo “suggests Serco was cherry picked very early on by the government to get involved in the pandemic response”.
“It looks like they’ve had the inside track from the start. It begs the question, why was Serco asked as early as January to get involved in the government’s response to the pandemic?
“It’s clear that adequate procurement processes were not followed when Serco was later awarded a £108m government contract to oversee contact tracing. Like with some PPE contracts, this seems to be creating a bit of stench. It’s up to the government to demonstrate there was no favouritism at play here,” he said.
The contract was not put out to open tender but was directly awarded to Serco by the Crown Commerical Service on behalf of the Department of Health and Social Services. It is up for renewal on 23 August 2020 and could be worth up to £410m to the company.