New poll results show strong support for banning G4S and Serco from running public contracts if found guilty of fraud. The justice secretary Chris Grayling has said they won’t be excluded from the competition for privatised probation services, in which they are likely to be frontrunners. However, public opinion is very clear that all government contracts should be taken away if they are found guilty.
Grayling will allow G4S and Serco to bid for new Ministry of Justice contracts worth £800 million despite fraud allegations hanging over both companies. He says they won’t be given the go-ahead until they have been audited. Shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan says the two companies should be barred from bidding for contracts until they are cleared.
The polling on public attitudes, carried out by Survation for campaign group We Own It, asked the public what should happen if companies like G4S and Serco are found to have defrauded the taxpayer. 58% believe they should have all their government contracts taken away and be banned from bidding again to provide public services. 27% say they should pay a fine and have the contract removed while 6% say they should pay a fine but be allowed to continue running the service.
Support for banning bids from companies which have defrauded the taxpayer was high across all political parties.
The poll also asked whether public services should be put back out to tender or run by the government after private company mismanagement. 40% say the service should be put back out to tender, while 47% said the service should be publicly run.
We Own It will be at the Labour Party Conference next week with a fringe event calling for a Public Service Users Bill. This would give the public a ‘right to recall’ private companies like G4S and Serco when they do a bad job. Shadow Children’s Minister Lisa Nandy will speak at the event, alongside Mark Ferguson from Labour List, Neal Lawson from Compass and Jane Lethbridge from the Public Services International Research Unit.