April 2011 | Lindsay Clark
have hit back at union reports that services contracts are failing the Probation
Service’s buildings estate in
England and Wales.
month, the National Association ofProbation Officers (NAPO)
published a dossier that said centralised deals for the purchase of food,
maintenance and cleaning for probation premises has resulted in expensive
catering, delays to repair and contractors travelling hundreds of miles (rather
than using local suppliers).
also claimed £15 million had been spent over the past five years employing
staff to liaise with the suppliers or by probation trusts paying for jobs to be
have, however, denied the claim that these contracts represent poor value for
runs a 24-hour accommodation helpdesk and IT
platform for the Probation Service estate.
“This involves the handling of calls, the provision of an asset management
system and a works approval and instruction process to the service’s
contractors,” a spokesman for the supplier said. “We are meeting our
obligations under this contract.”
spokeswoman for Amey, which carries out or
subcontracts maintenance work, said: “Amey has worked with the Ministry of
Justice to deliver facilities management services for several years, which has
helped to generate £18 million of efficiency savings.
will investigate the very small number of relevant claims made against Amey.
During the period chosen by NAPO, we dealt with approximately 33,000 work
spokesman for Interserve, another contractor cited in the report, said it had also
contributed to the £18 million savings. “The incidents relating to Interserve raised in the NAPO
report represent a very small fraction of the work we undertake for the ministry.
is worth noting that we would bear the cost ourselves of any extensive travel
needed to fulfil our service commitments – one of the ways in which the contract
represents good value for the taxpayer.”
A Ministry of Justice spokesman
said the maintenance contracts were handled within a regional structure that
ensured the relevant facilities management contractor is sent to deal with work
as quickly as possible.
“The allegation that £15 million has been wasted on essential maintenance
across the estate is not true,” he said.