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Fishiest outsourcing firms



Serco began life in 1929 when Radio Corporation of America formed a UK subsidiary, RCA Services, to support the country's growing cinema industry. Now it employs more than 100,000, has turnover of £4.6bn, and is the UK's largest private supplier of public services. Its contracts range from cycle hire in London to maintaining nuclear warheads.

Serco describes itself as "a values-led company with a culture and ethos that is at the heart of everything we do". It is so proud of its ethos that it publishes an attractively designed magazine of the same name, dedicated to "exploring the debates that shape public services". The Serco ethos is "imbued with a spirit of public service".

So it seems almost churlish to mention money, but in 2010 the FTSE100 company, which is almost entirely dependent on public funds, paid its CEO Christopher Hyman £3.1m – six times more than the highest-paid UK public servant. Senior executives have continued to receive austerity-busting pay rises in recent years, but other staff earn less than the living wage.

In 2012, whistleblowers revealed that Serco's out-of-hours GP service in Cornwall was understaffed, lacking in training and risked patient safety. In an act hardly imbued with a spirit of public service, the company had provided false data to the NHS on 252 occasions.

Serco is nominated for:
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