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Lay-offs at IT group NVT after police Scotland contract cancelled

The Scottish IT group that has led calls for reform in public procurement has said it has been forced to make two redundancies after Police Scotland cancelled a contract.

North Lanarkshire-based NVT says the new unitary police authority has refused to transfer two employees under Tupe regulations after it brought its desktop IT support in-house at the beginning of 2014.

NVT wrote to Justice Minister Kenny McAskill last November voicing its concerns on the issue and says it has still not had a response.

Hamish Fraser, NVT's business development manager, said the episode raised "disturbing questions about the conduct of the SPA (Scottish Police Authority)and their dealings with Scottish SMEs".

Mr Fraser said that on its original appointment NVT was required to transfer two engineers from the previous provider under Tupe rules.

"As the service provision is not changing going forward, we are now disappointed to find that the newly formed SPA is fighting the responsibility under Tupe with regard to transferring the two affected engineers into their organisation."

The stance would "force individuals into unemployment and leave this burden within the SME community", costing around £70,000 for NVT.

The IT group, which has this year landed the contracts for IT support at both the Commonwealth Games and the Ryder Cup, has been at the forefront of calls to widen public procurement to give more opportunities to SMEs.

The Scottish Government said the letter to Mr McAskill had only been received in February and was now being attended to. It said the issue was not one for the SPA but for Police Scotland as it was operational.

A Police Scotland spokesman said that as far as they were aware there were no other comparable instances of supply contracts being brought in-house.

He said Tupe had not been deemed to apply because the two employees had not been exclusively dedicated to the police contract, and the employment of two in-house engineers would come "at a saving to the public purse".

Mr Fraser said although the decision was entirely within the SPA's remit, and within the Tupe regulations, it would "ultimately prove to be a more expensive option and deliver a lower level of service".

He said the only reason NVT had not deployed the two engineers exclusively on the police contract was to ensure a quicker more efficient service.

"The work was spread geographically all over Scotland, so if the problem is in Edinburgh and I have got an engineer in Edinburgh, but the guy who is notionally attached to the contract is in Glasgow, I am not going to have him drive an 80-mile round trip. But you can't expect to get any credit for that," he said.

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