Home Politics Lordy Be, They're Complaining About Edenred's Contract Now?

Lordy Be, They’re Complaining About Edenred’s Contract Now?



Sure and nothing is perfect in this world but there does come a time when it’s necessary to marvel at the glories of it, to stop picking holes in the most trivial of underperformances:

An investigation into the free school meal voucher fiasco, which left many families without food during lockdown, has found the government signed contracts worth up to £425m with a company for which there was “limited evidence” of its capacity to deliver.

The troubled scheme was set up in just 18 days and awarded to the French-owned company Edenred, despite the government’s own assessment that the company’s UK arm did not have the financial standing that would normally be required for the scale of contract, according to a report by the National Audit Office (NAO).

OK, so, why was that done? Why send off a large chunk of money to peeps who don;t have the usual demonstrated ability to do the work?

The public spending watchdog said Edenred was appointed to run the scheme using an existing government framework contract, as it was already a supplier to a number of government departments, which meant there was no need for a lengthy tendering process.

Because bureaucracy is so far up it’s own arse that it isn’t possible to sign up someone who knows how to do things. Not in anything less than a geological age that is.

The policies upon gender equality, living wage payments, no zero hours contracts, what’s the anti-slavery declaration and all the rest. All must be examined, checked, corrected when wrong – as they will be given the continual slide to ever more Wokeism – and that takes time. It is not possible to government to sign up a new supplier quickly.

So, the necessity is to cast around for someone who has already done all that noodlearm nonsense and hope that they can adapt to doing the new task.

Within weeks, however, problems began to emerge, with schools across England complaining of problems in registering for the £15-per-child weekly vouchers. School staff worked into the night to try to log on to Edenred’s website and parents waited up to five days for their vouchers.

At one point in April, the Edenred helpline was receiving almost 4,000 calls and nearly 9,000 emails a day from frustrated school staff and parents. At the height of the crisis, ministers were forced to intervene directly and Department for Education officials held daily calls with Edenred to monitor progress.

One of the key problems identified in the NAO report was Edenred’s IT capacity, which was inadequate to meet the challenge of supplying vouchers to up to 1.4 million children who were eligible for free school meals.

The report says performance improved following DfE intervention, with processing times for orders dropping from an average of five days in April to just hours in July, and waiting times to access the website falling from 42 minutes to virtually no wait over the same period.

According to the report, Edenred issued 10.1m vouchers in total at a final cost to the DfE of £384m, significantly less than the original cost estimated at the start of the scheme.

So, they came in well under budget and with an astonishing improvement in response times as things bedded down.

And this is what people are complaining about?

Compare and contrast with absolutely any directly government run computer project. Absolutely none of which move from shit to perfect in just 90 days now, do they?



  1. We have this in the U.S. whenever there’s a natural disaster like a hurricane. If there’s an R in the White House the media will whine about how people aren’t getting bottled water, blankets, etc. fast enough starting about an hour after the storm passes. Then 2 weeks later they’ll complain about waste & mismanagement. You were supposed to be there immediately with exactly the right resources, why is that so hard?

  2. Anyone who believes that performance improved because of bureaucratic intervention rather than the contractor ramping up for the huge demand is not fit to review performance or issue a report. Contractor probably hired on a couple disassemblers to deal with the government bureaucrats while the useful workers got on with addressing the real problem–an added cost for no benefit at all.

  3. In April, server space was not available. Microsoft were rationing Azure subscriptions, and those are one of their biggest cash cows — everything they had was going into keeping Teams running. Google’s GCP was not accepting new orders for most server types. I don’t have any dealings with AWS but I would imagine Amazon was in a similar position. And if you wanted to buy the hardware yourself there was a 2-month lead time, even if you were spending millions.

    This had pretty much worked itself through by late May-early June. My guess would be that this was almost entirely a capacity issue, and as soon as Edenred could get their hands on sufficient servers, everything started working just fine.


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