Union criticises government’s £46.9m spent with supplier in 2018
The Home Office led public-sector spending with retailer and cloud services provider Amazon in 2018, according to data compiled by analyst Tussell for the GMB union.
The department spent £15.8m with Amazon last year. Last August, it announced it would move the Police Open Systems from a datacentre to Amazon Web Services (AWS), with a contract starting in October, although it is not clear if this is represented in the 2018 spending.
The next largest spenders were HM Revenue and Customs, spending £11.1m last year, and the Ministry of Justice, spending £8.5m. The ministry has recently published minimum security standards for its 120+ AWS accounts.
Only one of the 10 biggest-spending organisations was outside central government, with Peterborough City Council spending £577,600 in 25 transactions, in total more than four times more than any other local authority. However, earlier this year procurement consortium Yorkshire Purchasing Organisation established a framework contract worth up to £400m, allowing members including local authorities to make purchases through Amazon Business.
In a statement, the GMB contrasted HM Revenue and Customs’ £11m spending on AWS with a tax payment of £1.7m by Amazon’s UK subsidiary in 2017 and raised concerns about the company’s health and safety standards at its warehouses. “Amazon are taking us for mugs,” said GMB general secretary Tim Roache. “They refuse dignity and rights for their workers, don’t pay their taxes and the government give them contracts anyway – it’s beyond a joke.”
Shadow business secretary Rebecca Long Bailey added that if elected Labour will insist that public sector work delivered by private companies will have to “operate to the highest standards, with a public service ethos and not simply in the interests of shareholders”.