Serco, Deloitte and Amazon bosses coached on how to apply for New Years Honours
Contractors, consulting giants and big businesses who profited from the coronavirus pandemic are being offered tailored advice on how to apply for New Years Honours.
Serco and Amazon are among a number of industry giants being asked to nominate staff members for official honours from the Queen such as MBEs.
The revelations emerged after invitations from a top civil servant from the business department were accidentally copied to hundreds of companies, revealing the email addresses of executives.
The business department has apologised for the data breach.
Sarah Munby, permanent secretary at the business department, wrote to companies such as Amazon and BP, to say: “I would like to invite you to submit Honours nominations on behalf of your organisation as well as for any other individuals you think worthy of recognition.”
She also invited the bosses to online classes on “how to master and award honours nomination,” adding: “The team are also happy to provide more tailored advice in person.”
Rupert Soames, head of outsourcing firm Serco, which was paid £350m last year to provide staff for Test and Trace , was among those to receive an invitation.
Soames came under fire yesterday after Serco’s latest financial accounts revealed he was paid £4.9m last year.
It comes as Sir Nicholas Macpherson, permanent secretary at the Treasury until 2016, took to Twitter last night to brand the £37bn NHS Test and Trace system the “most wasteful and inept public spending programme of all time”.
The spending watchdog yesterday concluded that Test and Trace had “no clear impact” in driving down infection rates during the pandemic despite the “unimaginable” amounts of money spent on the scheme.
Tech giants Facebook, Google and Apple were also contacted to apply for the New Years Honours list, alongside major consultants such as Mckinsey, PWC and Deloitte and Bain and outsourcing titan Capita.
Jonathan Ashworth, the shadow health secretary, said: “This beggars belief. On the day Test and Trace was slammed for costing the taxpayer billions while failing to control this horrific virus it’s staggering the government were offering to spray gongs around like confetti to firms involved.”
A spokesperson for the business department said: “As part of the New Year’s Honours process, we work with a wide range of business groups and other stakeholders to encourage an ever-increasingly wide and diverse spread of nominations.
“But to be clear, these emails do not indicate that any specific individual is being actively considered for New Year’s Honours and any nominations received still need to go through a comprehensive, independent consideration process.”