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Prisons: Contracts

Question for Ministry of Justice

UIN 200610, tabled on 10 December 2018

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, pursuant to the Answer of 26 November 2018 to Question 194146 on Prisons: Contracts, what the estimated timetable is for the production of the public sector benchmark against which potential operators’ bids will be assessed.

Answered on

20 December 2018

As set out in my answer to PQ 194146, the Government is committed to a diverse market of prison operators and competition for custodial services remains an important way of achieving that and driving quality of operations and innovation across the system. Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) will not be bidding in the competition to operate the new prisons at Wellingborough and Glen Parva but will instead provide a ‘public sector benchmark’, against which potential operators’ bids can be assessed. It is right that the prison service focuses on getting the basics right in prisons, however where bids do not meet sufficient quality or value for money thresholds it will act as the provider.

For the competition for the operation of Wellingborough this work has already been undertaken and informed the specification and affordability threshold for this competition. The affordability threshold is based on the specification that has been set for the competition and an understanding of how the public sector would deliver this specification.

Creation of the affordability threshold and specification was undertaken by the Prison Estate Transformation Programme in conjunction with colleagues across HMPPS, finance, commercial and analytical services and involved staff from a range of grades.

The affordability threshold for the competition for Wellingborough is £299m Net Present Cost in 2019/20 prices. Both the threshold and the specification were published on the Ministry of Justice’s eSourcing portal as part of the competition documentation on 6 December 2018. The specification and affordability threshold for the competition for the operation of Glen Parva will be developed throughout next year.