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Tue July 14 2020

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Prison repairs backlog tops £900m as FM outsourcing fails

7 Feb More than 40% of UK prisons need major repair or replacement in the next three years, according to a National Audit Office report out today.

The backlog of major repairs will cost £916m to fix.

In 2015 Her Majesty’s Prison & Probation Service (HMPPS) decided to outsource facilities management to Amey and Carillion but it has not resulted in the savings that it was expecting. Quite the reverse.

The report says: “HMPPS did not have a clear picture of facilities management services in prisons before outsourcing the service. In 2015, HMPPS opted to outsource facilities management in prisons. HMPPS expected to achieve savings of £79m by contracting-out to Amey and Carillion but has failed to achieve these. Its approach contained common mistakes made in first-generation outsourcing. It had an inaccurate and incomplete understanding of its assets, their condition and required services. Due diligence was not sufficiently robust and HMPPS severely underestimated the demand for reactive maintenance work arising from vandalism and failing assets. It expected to pay providers £17.7m for variable costs (reactive maintenance costs above an approved threshold of £750 for each job, excluding vandalism) by 2018/19 – the fourth year of the contracts – but has paid £160.4m, a difference of £142.6m.”

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HMPPS measures Amey’s (and prior to its collapse, Carillion’s) performance against 16 key performance indicators. For the two areas which have the biggest impact on prison maintenance – high-priority planned and reactive maintenance jobs – they did not meet HMPPS’s expectations. However, Amey performed better than Carillion overall and its performance is improving, the NAO says. Carillion’s performance was poor and highly variable.

The NAO report, Improving the prison estate, is available as a pdf on the NAO’s website, www.nao.org.uk

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