Serco forced to defend track and trace efforts after Covid profit boost
◆ Serco defended its performance providing track and trace services during the coronavirus crisis yesterday as the outsourcing company posted a 53pc rise in half-year profits, writes Ben Gartside.
The company has hired 10,000 workers to call contacts of people who have tested positive for Covid-19 and advise them to self-isolate, but on average each tracer has only spoken to 2.4 individuals.
Rupert Soames, Serco’s chief executive, said the scrutiny over track and trace contracts “goes with the territory of being an outsourcer as you’re taking taxpayer money”.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4, Mr Soames pointed to “10 Nightingale hospitals lying vacant [and] 30,000 ventilators that are not being used. The Government has to start somewhere with capacity and the fact is that we have got too much capacity than we need right here, right now”.
Serco has also won government contracts to provide Covid tests, but said “the impact of coronavirus was net zero”, as gains were offset by other losses. Underlying profits rose to £77.6m on revenues up 24pc at £1.8bn.
Shares dropped 15pc to close at 143.7p amid profit taking.