|Stretched Hummer limousine similar to the one used to transport asylum seekers|
Serco, one of the Government's favourite outsourcing companies and, it seems still a suspect in an ongoing fraud investigation by the Serious Fraud Office, caused controversy recently by hiring a stretched limousine to transport a group of asylum seekers from London to Manchester.
The Government says that Serco are required to use "appropriate" transport and that Serco pay the cost of whatever vehicle they buy/hire for the purpose. What does the Government mean by "appropriate"? I'd assume it means things like, "able to carry the number of people required", "safe", "able to complete the journey in a reasonable time" and so on. Why then has the use of a limo caused any controversy at all when a) it costs the taxpayer no more or less than using a coach, 10 taxis, a bus or any other mode of transport; and b) it seems to have got the job done, on time and without any problems.
What then is the problem?
Voters elected a Conservative government that, like most Conservative governments, enjoys privatising thing and getting work done in the private sector because they believe that this offers the best value for taxpayer's money and gets the work done more efficiently. Whether that belief is right or wrong, it is what voters elected just a few months ago.
The Government has outsourced the work of transporting asylum seekers from temporary accommodation to more permanent accommodation. The private company employed for the task has carried out the work at the agreed price. I'm quite sure that Serco is not going to hire vehicles for a laugh or that reduce its profit. But, if it did decide to reduce its profit on the job then (assuming you are not a shareholder in Serco) what does it have to do with you? In short, what is everybody complaining about? This is the small-state, free-market in action that you voted for.
The only logical answer I can see is that people don't like the idea of asylum seekers receiving any sort of "luxury" even if it is just a ride in a ridiculous-looking car that people normally hire for special occasions. I doubt they had access to a free bar for the ride. I doubt a tour of the local bars and clubs was included in the ride. Once those are gone then it's basically just a funny looking coach.
If you think that maybe Serco shouldn't be charging the Government so much that they can afford to hire a Limo for a job like this then you are wrong. Serco are required, by law, to get the best deal for their shareholders and to make the most profit for their shareholders - another Conservative government law by the way. If you think that Serco is being paid too much for this contract then you should direct your ire at the politicians who a) awarded this contract; and b) allow it to continue, not at Serco and definitely not at the asylum seekers.