By Claire West

Business Starts at Home

Everyone knows that business is having a tough time right now. That accepted, why is it that our own government contracts are going overseas when they should be handled here in the UK. According to Mark Ogier of MMCC Consultants in Milton Keynes, UK companies are missing out as the government tries to save money by giving contracts away.

It was only in February that Gareth Thomas, Minister for Trade and Development announced that he was looking towards India to provide IT services cheaper than is possible in the UK. “We want to allow Indian companies to win these contracts,” he said.

“But whatever happened to good, old fashioned competition?” said Mark Ogier, managing director of MMCC Consultants in Milton Keynes, a home grown company that specialises in exactly this type of work. "My objection is not a moral one. Nor am I addressing the obvious security implications of having important data, perhaps including biometrics, collected and held offshore. My concern is that Mr. Thomas already seems to have made his mind up.”

Mark continued to explain that the UK has some of the best IT brains in the world. “But still Mr. Thomas says he wants Indian companies to win. Why? How does he know that the work could not be done economically in the UK? I wonder how many UK firms have been considered. Nobody asked my company to tender.”

It all seems particularly extraordinary when our government seems quite happy to pour millions into supporting the struggling Jaguar Land Rover, a company that is owned by Tata, an Indian multi-national, that probably has more spare cash than the UK economy right now.

“I wonder too how, exactly, the costs have been worked out,” said Mark. “It’s all very well getting the development work on the cheap but who’s looking out for the long term. In my experience the lowest price is usually lowest for a good reason. Yes, in India wages are lower, but it might also be that vital safeguards, considered essential in the UK, are omitted out of ignorance or perceived economy. Has anyone calculated the cost of getting it wrong?”

For Mark this trend is not sour grapes, it’s just that it doesn’t seem to be fair play. Globalisation was billed as the panacea to the world’s woes in the new century. Now this same principle, when the chips are really down at home, seems a little hollow.