According to one of two reports on public service contracting published by the National Audit Office last week, the ‘big four’ earned £6.6 billion (bn) between them from the UK government and public sector in 2012-13. They received this for running back office functions like IT and facilities but also for frontline services like prisons, benefit claims and defence. Outsourcing government services might also outsource a great deal of the risk and responsibility to these companies. A series of controversies – from Olympic security to out-of-hours GP services to overcharging for tagging criminals – have led to the replacement of top executives at both Serco and G4S and commentators are now raising questions about whether big contractors will continue to bid for and provide services if their reputations continue to suffer. As these companies face the public trial of a select committee hearing, it’s worth examining the impact on their bottom line by looking at the share prices of the big four on the London Stock Exchange (or rather the big three, as Atos is not listed in London). Serco Serco are the most reliant of the big four on UK government contracts – their total worldwide revenue in 2012 […]

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