“The Ministry of Justice has confirmed it commissioned an independent review into prison maintenance, millions of pounds of which was outsourced to the stricken giant, early last year.
The review was carried out after prisons minister Sam Gyimah said he was “not impressed” by Carillion’s maintenance work and the firm was sent a formal warning in September 2016. Despite the row, the firm went on to win another £40million in Ministry of Justice contracts last year – before collapsing leaving 20,000 jobs in the balance. Yet ministers say the report – together with other reports on Carillion’s effectiveness including an “improvement plan” – will not be handed to the independent House of Commons Library.
Justice minister Rory Stewart wrote: “There are no plans to place the information in the library as the report contains commercially sensitive information.”
Shadow Justice Secretary Richard Burgon said: “It’s outrageous that the govenrment is now refusing to publish this or any other reports that the Ministry of Justice has done into Carillion’s performance in our prisons.
“What has it got to hide?
“All too often with deals signed with private companies in our justice system, there is a lack of transparency and openness.
“This makes it incredibly difficult to hold the private sector to account and to ensure that companies are working in the public interest and not their own.”
A string of parliamentary questions by Mr Burgon revealed the Ministry of Justice spent £11.4million over three years on its 97-strong team of officials whose job it was to monitor contracts. But ministers admitted an “underestimation of the historical costs” meant some contracts did not achieve the savings they promised.
Mr Stewart said the independent report in early 2017 was “used to support several improvement initiatives.”
He added the department had meetings with Carillion at various levels “at least weekly” to discuss “specific issues”. He was unable to name the total number of meetings.
The minister told Mr Burgon: “A formal letter of concern was issued in 2016 to advise Carillion of performance failures.
“A performance action plan was put in place to address these failings and some improvements were made.”
It came as the government tonight said it has saved 1,000 Carillion prisons jobs by setting up its own facilities management firm. The staff in 52 jails who previously employed by the giant will move to the new company, Gov Facility Services Limited, with their terms and conditions preserved. Their work includes cleaning, maintenance and building repair.
Justice Secretary David Gauke said: “I want to reassure staff that their jobs are secure and essential to making prisons safer and more decent.”