It's been a very good year for Serco. The British outsourcing company which runs the Test and Trace service is making some £50 million a month, according to an answer given this week by health minister Jo Churchill. Serco declared in June a 50 per cent jump in profits based off its work on various government contracts. Revenues for the FTSE250 giant are forecast to be £2.2 billion – almost 20 per cent higher than the same period in 2020.
The company's links with the Conservative party are well-known – its CEO is Rupert Soames, brother of the legendary Sir Nicholas who sat in the Commons from 1983 until 2019. The current minister of state for health meanwhile is Edward Argar, a former head of public health at Serco. But now it seems the contact tracing giant has, appropriately enough, opted to strengthen its own contact book by donating office space to rising star Ranil Jayawardena, under secretary of state at the Department of International Trade.
Jayawardena's most recent entry for the register of members' interests shows Serco UK have donated the equivalent of £19,000 of office space for the use of his constituency team. The entry is listed as being worth some £1,583 a month and will see the former councillor's staff make use of Serco House in Hampshire, where Jayawardena is the local MP.
The onetime Tory deputy chair is clearly familiar with his team's new surroundings having visited the Hook premises for a 'socially distanced' certificate ceremony for apprentices back in December. Still, at least there's one minister doing his bit to get staff back to the office.
Other entries of note alongside Jayawardena include Michael Gove's £100,000 donation from millionaire developer Zak Gertler, Keir Starmer registering £17,500 in further legal advice fees while Liam Fox and Eleanor Laing appear to have holidayed in France for a fortnight together.
Given the on-off rumours of a reshuffle tomorrow, Steerpike wonders if Serco House is not the only new office highly-tipped Ranil could be enjoying soon.