Electronic tagging systems that were never used and software so bad it is causing industrial disputes are among sources of waste at the Ministry of Justice
Dominic Raab‘s department wasted a “staggering” £238m of its budget last year, according to new figures – an increase of 14 times on the year before.
Labour called for an urgent National Audit Office investigation into the losses at the Ministry of Justice, which were driven by overspends worth tens of millions of pounds on an array of ill-advised or bungled projects.
The biggest-ticket item driving up the level of waste was £98.2m on a new case management system for electronic tagging of criminals – which was then scrapped before it could be used.
The department also had to pay an extra £72.1m HMRC because it had incorrectly reported the employment status of some of its workers, being hit with a further £15m penalty for breaching the rules. This part of the cash was returned to the Treasury.
And £14m was paid to private contractors running probation services for the department breaking their contracts early, even though those companies had failed to hit their targets to reduce re-offending.
Humiliatingly, HM Courts and Tribunals Service then spent £18m on a software system to manage cases which was so bad that courts staff are now threatening strike action over it.
Mr Raab took over running the ministry in September last year, replacing Robert Buckland, who had held the role since 2019.
Steve Reed, Labour’s shadow justice secretary, said the figures, put together by the opposition, showed that Mr Raab was unable to control his ministry.
“This high tax, soft-on-crime Conservative Government has yet again wasted hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ money,” hy het gesê.
“It adds to a growing charge sheet including record court backlogs that see victims fail to get justice, pitifully low convictions for rape, and a drugs epidemic in prisons. It is another reminder that Justice Secretary Dominic Raab has no grip on his Department.
“The National Audit Office needs to investigate urgently so taxpayers can see just why so much public money has been thrown away.”
The opposition has in recent months targeted the government over waste and misspending of public funds – previously focusing on the handling of emergency pandemic contracts.
Mr Reed reiterated the Labour promise to create an independent Office for Value for Money to scrutinise government spending.
A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: “Achieving value for money for taxpayers is a key consideration in all our decision-making and the department has always stayed within its spending budget.
“We have improved public safety by bringing forward reforms designed to help protect the public by reducing re-offending and cutting crime and providing swift access to justice.