Serco “happy” to lose £145 million

Outsourcing giant Serco are “happy” to lose £145m on its contract to provide housing for asylum seekers, rather than risk jeopardising their other contracts with the Government, its CEO said.

Rupert Soames, grandson of Sir Winston Churchill and brother of MP Sir Nicholas Soames, faced questions from MPs over accusations of providing housing to asylum seekers in the UK that was not fit for habitation.

Rupert Soames, Chief Executive Officer, Serco

Rupert Soames, Chief Executive Officer, Serco

But Mr Soames said his company was losing more than £100 on every asylum seeker for whom they provided housing, a number running into the tens of thousands.

“We procure asylum seekers for £350 a month, and we provide for them for £450 a month,” Mr Soames said.

“Our starting point is not the cost. It is whether it meets Home Office standards. Within those standards we seek to get the best value we can.

We’re not going to make money on this contract. It’s going to lose £145m over its life and we will pay that. We feel very passionately about looking after asylum seekers well.”

Mr Soames, who was wearing a Serco embossed shirt for the occasion, said his company had underbid on the contract in the first place, which was then increased in scale as the number of asylum seekers coming into the UK had risen so rapidy, including “41 per cent” last year.

“One of the things that is galling [about this criticism], is that we have said we will spend the money, we are looking after overstayers at our own expense, looking after people where Home Office funding has been cut off. We have been looking after a double amputee in Scotland for two years. It’s quite galling to be implied that we’re rapacious, money grabbing, the standard is horrific, slum accommodation, and so on. This contract at an operational level is working very well.”

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