Whitehall has come under pressure from some of its most prominent public service providers for slow decision-making, as time and resources are increasingly directed towards no-deal Brexit planning.
Three sources with knowledge of the matter told City A.M. that de facto no-deal Brexit secretary Michael Gove has been urged to “get a move on” so more work can be handed out.
At a meeting in late September, Gove asked for chief executives’ thoughts on the government’s preparations for leaving the EU.
Bosses said the diversion of time and resources towards Brexit – at the expense of the normal running of government – was a thorn in the industry’s side. This is in part because it has significantly slowed the pace of contract awards, City A.M. understands.
One source told City A.M: “Nothing is functioning properly because procurement is stuck in the mud on one issue – Brexit.”
Several listed outsourcing firms have reported that tender opportunities have dried up in recent months, including Serco.
The meeting was attended by a number of firms including Serco and Sodexo, as well as Business Services Association chief Mark Fox.
Another concern raised at the meeting was how officials were implementing a recently-published cross-government guide for civil servants procuring public services, dubbed the Outsourcing Playbook.
A Cabinet Office spokesman said the department was working with firms on Brexit, and held “regular meetings with a wide variety of business leaders to discuss any issues or concerns they have”.
Gove’s plans to shift at least 2,000 civil servants away from their day jobs onto no-deal Brexit planning were reported earlier this year.
It is part of the government’s massive contingency operation code-named Yellowhammer.
He also chaired a “no holds barred” discussion with car industry chiefs in Warwick late last month.
At that, bosses told him under no uncertain terms that the automotive industry was not prepared for a no-deal scenario.
According to the BBC, one said: “No deal is not an option. Catastrophic.”
Main image: Getty
Correction: 11 October. Business Services Association was changed from British Services Association.