MPs seek to lift the veil on terms of Government outsourcing deals
A powerful group of MPs will today push top civil servants to agree to sweeping reforms of how Government contracts are run by the private sector following headline-grabbing failures at outsourcing giants Serco and G4S.
Margaret Hodge, the Public Accounts Committee chairman, wants to see financial information on all Government contracts revealed under what is known as open-book accounting. The former Labour minister is also demanding that the National Audit Office has full access to contractual and financial details of these deals, which should also be subject to greater public disclosure under Freedom of Information laws.
Stephen Kelly and Bill Crothers, chief operating officer and chief procurement officer respectively at the Cabinet Office, will face the committee this afternoon. They will be joined by top Ministry of Defence civil servants who could be questioned over the semi-privatisation of the £14bn agency that buys tanks and guns. Plans to let the private sector run such a sensitive part of national security have been widely criticised and the process is on the brink of collapse after one of only two bidders pulled out last week. Read more
Mark Leftly | The Independent | 25th November 2013
Charities angry at failure to repay £425m lost to Olympics budget
More than £400m of lottery money diverted from good causes to pay for the Olympics is unlikely to be repaid for decades, if at all, charities fear.
In 2007 the Labour government diverted £425m from the Big Lottery Fund, which helps small community groups and charities across the UK, to pay for infrastructure on the Olympic Park. A pledge was given that the charities would have the cash returned.
But a memorandum of understanding, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, reveals that a series of agreements has been drawn up to decide who gets first claim on cash from Olympic asset sales – and that charities are not at the front of the queue.
A body representing the good causes that have lost out has branded this a “scandal” and is questioning why none of the political parties is pressing for the money to be returned urgently. Read more
Jamie Doward | The Guardian | 24th November 2013
Morning-after drink-driving arrests ‘increase’
The number of motorists arrested for drink-driving the “morning after” has risen, police figures suggest.
Arrests between 06:00 and 08:00 rose from 350 in 2011 to 363 in 2012 – an increase of 4%, the data shows.
The figures from 22 of England and Wales’ 45 police forces were obtained by a Freedom of Information Act and published by car insurers LV.
A separate survey by LV showed 46% of drivers did not realise how long it took for alcohol to leave the body.
One in five drivers surveyed thought they were “ok” to drive the morning after they had been drinking.
According to LV, “morning-after” drink-drivers are on average five hours away from being sober enough to drive when they get behind the wheel. Read more
BBC News | 28th November 2013