Pay awards for Serco bosses raise more questions over outsourcing

Serco CEO’s £4.9m pay announced on same day MPs question impact of test & trace system

The release of Serco’s 2021 annual report showed that CEO Rupert Soames was paid £4.9m in 2020 and CFO Angus Cockburn was paid £2.4m.

This comes against a backdrop of criticism from the media, the official opposition and civil society over the role Serco has played in the UK’s test and trace system. On the same day that the pay awards were announced, the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee declared that the test and trace system may have had “no measurable benefit” on preventing lockdowns, despite £22bn being spent on the system.

HPC Executive Director Luke Hildyard responded to the publication of Serco’s executive pay figures saying,

“This is an unfortunate hallmark of the outsourcing of public services. Low-paid workers lose the rights, pay and protections of public sector employees, while executives of the outsourcing firms rake in pay awards that would be unconscionable for a senior public servant.

Bringing services back in-house is a simple and increasingly common process and may become more popular as the performance and culture of the NHS over the course of the pandemic is contrasted with outsourcers like Serco.”

Our response was covered in the Financial Times, the Daily Mail and the Guardian.