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14 March 2023

Government contract termination forces private owner to liquidate company… for third time

The outsourced contract for the Treasury’s public enquiries system has been cancelled after just six months.

By The Chatterer

One of Rishi Sunak’s last acts as chancellor was outsourcing the Treasury’s public enquiries system.

On 30 June 2022, the Glasgow-based call-centre operator Go-Centric was awarded a two-year contract to answer the Treasury’s phones. The firm had previously been criticised by politicians in Scotland after it furloughed staff during the pandemic following its receipt of a £10m test-and-protect contract from NHS Scotland.

Under the arrangement with the Treasury, Go-Centric was due to earn around £22,000 a year, charging £3.35 per call, estimating there would be 6,700 calls annually (or 129 per week).

Unfortunately, according to the Treasury minister James Cartlidge, the contract has already been terminated, after the public enquiries line received just 345 calls in its first six months (around 11 per week). Go-Centric earned just £1,172.50 during its contract, and has gone into liquidation. It is, according to the Daily Record, the third firm associated with the 42-year-old owner of Go-Centric, David Harper, that has collapsed after being given public contracts, following other closures in 2017 and 2018.

If you’re thinking of asking the Treasury how a government contract could have been awarded to a company with that kind of track record, maybe get in touch via email. Safe to say there’s no point calling.

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[See also: Rishi Sunak’s “epoch-defining” defence strategy needs to be more than a label]

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