Outsourcing giants Serco are set to make a huge profit from its enormous Government test-and-trace programme – despite failing to reach huge numbers of people and instructing them to self-isolate.
This news comes as the test and trace system reported its worst performance since it began last week.
MP Ian Merns Tweeted: “Contacts traced within 24 hours by: Serco Test & Trace: 67% Local Council teams: 97%.”
Zarah Sultana MP also expressed her anger at Serco’s contract. She tweeted: “Serco’s CEO is the brother of a former Tory MP. His partner is a Tory Party donor. And Serco’s former top spin doctor is the Tory Minister for Health. In Parliament, I just voted for Test and Trace funding to go to local public health teams, not Serco. The Tories voted it down.”
The Labour Party Tweeted about the success of local councils compared to Serco.
Labour MP for Rhondda, Chris Bryant let his feelings known about the trace and trace system and the person who runs it.
He told the House of Commons that “the tracing system has been a complete disaster. The target the Government set was 80 per cent. They have never met it in a single week.
“Last week was the worst result ever. I do not understand why Baroness Harding is still in a job. This is an absolute mystery to me. I think is it a constitutional aberration that a member of the House of Lords, who votes on party political issues, is also working effectively as a Civil Servant.
“I hate the concept of ‘world beating’ every time the Prime Minister tries to look Churchillian he looks like Neville Chamberlain to me. Lockdowns are a sign of failure to me but I bet that’s where we will end up.”
Outsourcing giant Serco has said it expects profits to exceed expectations in 2020 as a result of the uptick in work since the global pandemic.
Updating the London Stock Exchange in an unexpected announcement, the company said the excess profits could now be returned to shareholders, with a consultation on dividend payments under way.
The company which is leading the UK Government’s Test and Trace scheme said it had achieved strong revenue growth in the three months from July, highlighting extensions to contracts to provide test sites and call handlers.
Bosses said this was “an indication of our customer’s satisfaction with the quality of work we have delivered” as part of the £12 billion committed by the Government to the system.
The company added: “We have also seen increases in the number of asylum seekers we are looking after on behalf of the Home Office, and our new Prisoner Escorting contract has been successfully mobilised.
“We have now secured an extension to the Emergency Measures Agreement on the Caledonian Sleepers to the end of the year.”
It expects a trading profit, before any one-off costs, of between £160 million and £165 million, compared with previous estimates of £135 million to £150 million.
Full-year revenue is expected to be around £3.9 billion – up from £3.7 billion previously predicted.
The announcement comes a day after NHS Test and Trace recorded its worst ever week for contact tracing as cases of coronavirus continue to rise.
It is understood senior Government officials have expressed concern that Test and Trace could become “overwhelmed” if case numbers get too high.
New data showed 62.6% of close contacts of people who tested positive for Covid-19 in England were reached through the system in the week ending October 7.
This was the lowest weekly percentage since Test and Trace began, and is down from 69.5% the previous week.
For cases handled by local health protection teams, 97.7% of contacts were reached and asked to self-isolate in the week to October 7.
For those handled either online or by call centres, 57.6% of close contacts were reached and asked to self-isolate.
The way the system operates has been the subject of a political storm, with Labour highly critical of the use of outsourcers and calling for Serco to be ditched from the operation.
Serco added in the statement on Friday morning that it has also benefitted from contracts in the US, Australia and the Middle East.