The Ministry of Justice has revealed that an aborted attempt to outsource court fine enforcement cost over £8.7m.
The process began in July 2013 when justice secretary Chris Grayling began the search for a new provider of criminal compliance and enforcement services.
The bidding process closed in January this year and in July the department confirmed that international firm Synnex Concentrix had been announced as the preferred bidder for court enforcements.
But a surprise House of Commons written statement from justice minister Shailesh Vara last month confirmed the policy was being changed.
A written parliamentary question from shadow justice minister Andy Slaughter asked for the total cost of the discontinued procurement process.
Vara responded today to confirm that the total cost of the project, as of the end of September 2015, was £8.723m.
The minister added: ‘We took the decision not to outsource HMCTS compliance and enforcement services to a single supplier because of the need to ensure that any contract we let provided the best value for the taxpayer.’
Last month Vara told the Commons that ‘in-house modernisation’ was the best option for HMCTS rather than outsourcing services to a single supplier.
The U-turn was seen as another policy change from new justice secretary Michael Gove. In 2013 the Ministry of Justice had said that a commercial partner would ‘bring in the necessary investment and technology needed to help increase fine collection, reduce enforcement costs and importantly ensure more criminals pay’.
The government had already faced opposition to its plans for outsourcing fine collection.
In June his year, an early day motion saying the privatisation should stop was signed by 27 MPs, including Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and shadow chancellor John McDonnell.