Monday, 11 April 2011
Silence Is Not A Wise Decision Mr Moore
He's such a quiet man few know he exists.
Michael Moore MP represents the electorate of part of the Scottish borders, namely Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk. He is a member of the Liberal Democrats.
Due to the indecision of the electorate last year and the infliction of a coalition government foisted upon the British electorate, he is also Secretary of State for Scotland and thereby represents Scotland within the UK government hierarchy.
Scotland has never had a Secretary of State - or what was known as a Scottish Secretary before that sobriquet became unfashionable - who has the slightest interest in the wellbeing of the Scots. Their main aim is to stifle any controversy which would affect the Union.
However, Mr Moore has a responsibility to the folk in Scotland. Part of that is his support of Scottish business in UK government tenders.
Some months ago the UK government tendered for organisations which could prepare unemployed people for work and find them suitable jobs.
The Glasgow based Wise group, a not-for-profit organisation, applied due to having one of the most successful track records in the UK of gaining employment for challenging clients. They also fulfilled the tender requirement of 30% of the work being undertaken by the voluntary sector. There is no other organisation in Scotland who can surpass the Wise Group's success - I keep a close eye on private businesses who insist they access work for those who many would class as unemployable - and the Wise Group do very well.
Mind you, if our education system was completely overhauled we may have more success, but that's another post altogether.
Now you would think the Wise Group were in a perfect position to assist people acquire work in Scotland wouldn't you? Not according to the UK government who have given the contract to Working Links which said it would give 6% of the work to voluntary organisations and the other winner was Ingeus, with plans to involve the voluntary sector in 8%. Neither company has any record in Scotland and in comparison with the Wise Group they have little interest in the voluntary sector.
As Scots we would think that immediately Michael Moore would be asking questions of the UK government's decision to award the contracts to companies based outside Scotland and with less worthy records than the Weir Group. He would have been battering the knocker on No 10 if he was really concerned.
Not so. Mr Moore has been silent. Dumb. Speechless. No explanation given by him to the Weir Group about why the contracts went to companies why didn't fulfill the 30% voluntary sector specification.
The DWP now says a 30% or more involvement from the voluntary sector was an important part of the process but never a contract requirement. Is that so? Do I hear Michael Moore asking questions? In this case the DWP know they are guilty of drafting tender documents in a misleading manner.
If cost was the main concern why did the tender not make it clear at the outset with the words 'the contract will be given to the lowest bidder'.
I have no idea if the the Wise Group's tender cost more than others yet it is of importance and relevance that the UK government issue tenders with particular specifications, yet ignore their specs and explain them away by the 30% voluntary credential requirements 'was an important part of the process but not a contract requirement'.
There has been a meeting with the Works and Pensions Secretary Chris Grayling, Michael Moore and the bidders for the Scottish contracts but it failed to resolve the issue of the voluntary sector involvement.
Mr Moore has been woefully quiet on Scotland's behalf. Is he thinking silence is a better option for his party's Holyrood electoral success?
Note: All day I've had difficulty accessing the Wise Group site. I've tried access on Firefox too but with no success. Perhaps you will have more luck.
Update: The Wise group intend to take legal action.