When a country privatises the kitchen sink, quelle surprise when things go wrong

Interesting development in Britain (via the Guardian) that shows deep concern with the companies both major sides of politics increasingly believe should run the country:

Home Office ministers have ordered weekly reports on the progress of two new contracts with the private security companies… G4S… and… Serco… to house and provide support services for thousands of asylum seekers and their families.

The chief executive of the UK Border Agency (UKBA), Rob Whiteman, has confirmed that serious concerns about the ability of the two companies to find… housing… for thousands of asylum seekers across the north of England by November has led to closer monitoring at the most senior levels of the Home Office.

The …£883m a year Compass contract to provide support services for dispersed asylum seekers is the largest project run by the Home Office. The two private security companies took over the five-year asylum housing contracts in four of the six UKBA regions across Britain from social landlords, including councils, in March.

The companies were expected to start moving people in June. But after a contractual dispute G4S dropped its housing subcontractor for the Yorkshire and Humberside region, United Property Management, in June and its new subcontractors have yet to find enough homes.

Two councils, Sheffield and Kirklees, have raised concerns about their ability to deliver the housing contract within the expected timetable. Kirklees council said that a fortnight ago, only one family out of 240 asylum seekers had been moved as part of the transition from the council to the new providers.

“There are 240 asylum seekers being assisted. We understand the subcontractors are finding it difficult to procure accommodation and the council has been asked to continue to provide assistance until the end of October. There is no suggestion however that the council’s contract will be renewed after this time.”