back to article Guess who's still in charge of your gas safety, Brits? Capita

Hard-pressed outsourcing biz Capita was today selected by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to manage the Gas Safe Register (GSR) for five years, including overseeing the competence of engineers listed. The five-year agreement kicks off from April Fools’ Day 2019 and is valued by London Stock Exchange-listed Capita as …

  1. DJV Silver badge

    Ah...

    This is where "in charge" takes on a completely new meaning... (one having very little to do with being in charge or even having the ability to do anything meaningful or constructive*).

    (* and paying their CEO extra bonuses doesn't count as either)

    1. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: Ah...

      I assumed in meant "in (a position to) charge (through the nose for a sup-par service)".

    2. Version 1.0 Silver badge

      Re: Ah...

      I think it should be possible to replace most of the safety engineers with a couple of lines of Javascript - that's the way we're going isn't it?

  2. Goldmember

    If ever there was a time...

    ... to be grateful that I live in a flat with no gas appliances... this is it.

    1. TheVogon

      Re: If ever there was a time...

      "... to be grateful that I live in a flat with no gas appliances... this is it."

      You are glad you use electricity for hot water?! The lifetime cost is about 3 times higher than gas.

      I have an electric water heater in an outbuilding and it draws ~ 11KW to be able to run a bath or a shower at a reasonable rate.

      1. Teiwaz
        Joke

        Re: If ever there was a time...

        "... to be grateful that I live in a flat with no gas appliances... this is it."

        You are glad you use electricity for hot water?! The lifetime cost is about 3 times higher than gas.

        That's assuming Commenter is not the original inspiration for the (more than slightly pretentious) lyrics to Jarres Téo & Téa.

      2. Goldmember

        Re: If ever there was a time...

        "You are glad you use electricity for hot water?! The lifetime cost is about 3 times higher than gas."

        That's a generalization. If you don't use a lot of hot water, the cost of simply having a gas supply can outweigh the savings. I have an efficient electric boiler, a shower with its own heating element, and storage heaters which are only active during off-peak hours (no central heating, but no need for it really - there are flats above, below and at either side). I live alone and am only at home evenings/ weekends. As such, I spend considerably less on electricity than I used to spend when I lived in a house which had both elec and gas supplies.

        Then there's the fact that gas supplies are finite, and are increasing in cost as supplies deplete.

        So to answer your question... Yes.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: If ever there was a time...

          I'd also challenge the idea that lifetime costs of electric water heating are a third of gas. For gas you've got the gas standing charge of £60 a year, you've got the annual gas safety check at say another £60, you've got a gas boiler for say £3,000 installed, with a lifetime of about 12-14 years (for a modern condensing boiler). Then there's the real or notional cost of capital on the boiler of say another £2.1k. So all in we're talking almost £8k, say £600 a year.

          And although gas is certainly cheaper than leccy, don't forget that a boiler is only about 80% efficient (SEDBUK ratings being total bollocks), whereas electric water heating is more like 99% efficient.

          1. Master Luke

            Re: If ever there was a time... to get your facts right

            Ok so where do you think the majority of that electricity comes from right now? Is burning gas localy to heat water really less efficient than burning it in a power station, using that to heat water to produce steam to spin a turbine to produce electicity that may or may not be needed at that precise moment? Not to mention the losses in the transmission of that electricity to your home through the national grid.

            99% efficient? I don't think so, but feel free to provide evidence to correct me.

            1. DavCrav

              Re: If ever there was a time... to get your facts right

              "99% efficient? I don't think so, but feel free to provide evidence to correct me."

              The inefficiencies would be lost as, well, heat. So it's as efficient as the insulation is. So I can well believe 99%, although I'd play it safe and say 97%.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: If ever there was a time... to get your facts right Master Luke

              99% efficient? I don't think so, but feel free to provide evidence to correct me.

              You've missed the point. The very high LOCAL efficiency of electric water heating is a matter of fact, as is the thermal losses on a boiler. You are correct that the net losses are greater on the electricity system, but my point was not about overall system efficiency, but about the net cost for the end user. Most people think that because gas costs 4-5p kWh, that is what they're paying for heat. My point, labouring it again for your benefit is that they need to increase that for the boiler losses, and then there's a whole load of extra costs that dramatically increase the long term average cost of gas-heated water.

              I've done a lot of work on district heating systems, and these are about 30% more efficient than an individual gas boiler, but the cost of heat from these high efficiency, professionally designed and run heat networks is still about the same as people get charged for electricity (around 14-16 pkWh).

          2. TheVogon

            Re: If ever there was a time...

            "you've got a gas boiler for say £3,000 installed"

            I paid £2000 for a 130KW boiler AND a Megaflow tank installed to heat / provide hot water for a large house so sounds like you are being ripped off!

            Hometree will install a gas boiler for £10 a month.

        2. TheVogon

          Re: If ever there was a time...

          "That's a generalization"

          Hence the wording "about"

          "If you don't use a lot of hot water, the cost of simply having a gas supply can outweigh the savings"

          Having a gas supply costs next to nothing. 25p a day is a typical standing charge for low use, or less than £2 a week. It is unlikely that many residents would find using electricity cheaper for hot water versus a high efficiency on demand boiler.

        3. TheVogon

          Re: If ever there was a time...

          "Then there's the fact that gas supplies are finite, and are increasing in cost as supplies deplete"

          See https://www.flogas.co.uk/frequently-asked-questions/how-long-will-natural-gas-reserves-last

          "Proven and probable reserves are sufficient for about 200 years consumption at current rates."

          So not a problem unless you drive a Delorian.

  3. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

    HSE director of regulation Philip White claimed the winning bid was the “strongest on cost and quality”

    The problem is that any vaguely skilled saleman can write a proposal that meets those criteria - following through on that is another matter.

    For government contracts there should be a further set of qualifying criteria - if more than half of your last, say 10, major contracts have gone over budget by more than x%, been delayed by more than y% or generated more than a certain number of column inches of bad press, your bid is disqualified.

    1. DJV Silver badge

      Oh yes, this a thousand times over!!! Upvoted (wish I could do more than one upvote).

  4. Little Mouse Silver badge

    My house isn't even on mains gas, but I'm sure they'll still manage to fuck it up for me somehow.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Facepalm

      @Little Mouse

      You'll come home from work to find your driveway and front yard dug up. A too-cheerful guy will be there to inform you that per your work order in their systems, the mains gas service you requested is ALMOST in place. It will only be a 4-5 business days until the required parts arrive so they can complete the installation, they'll need access to the inside of your house until then, and the computer says that your first bill that includes your 11,000 Sterling installation charge will arrive in a couple weeks.

      1. DavCrav

        "You'll come home from work to find your driveway and front yard dug up. A too-cheerful guy will be there to inform you that per your work order in their systems, the mains gas service you requested is ALMOST in place. It will only be a 4-5 business days until the required parts arrive so they can complete the installation, they'll need access to the inside of your house until then, and the computer says that your first bill that includes your 11,000 Sterling installation charge will arrive in a couple weeks."

        Thames Water recently dug up the front of my driveway to add a stop cock to the house water supply. I found this out when I came back home and asked why they had dug this deep hole. "We can't seem to find your water pipe", they said. I replied, "well, you might have trouble there. It enters through the back garden. And already has a stop cock."

  5. Crisp

    Incompetence and an explosive gas

    This is fine.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Crapita, meet Carillion.

    That's all.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    So pleased my house heating runs on oil...

    If you read this and work for Capita, you should be deeply ashamed of your incompetence. And if you know someone who works for Capita, make 2018 your year to eject them.

    1. ArrZarr Silver badge

      Re: So pleased my house heating runs on oil...

      I'm pretty certain that the majority of people who work at Capita are competent at their job.

      I'm also pretty certain that they are hamstrung by the manglement.

  8. Wolfclaw

    Vulture Hang You Head In Shame !!

    You can't have Capita and competence in the same sentence.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Vulture Hang You Head In Shame !!

      Hey, its possible

      "Capita has an amazing level of competence at winning public contracts, and then disappointing on the delivery end."

      "Competence is not a word that most people would associate with Capita."

      "Capita--leading in competence"

      See! It can be done. You just have to pay attention to the syntax.

  9. TRT Silver badge

    Oh Christ! We're all dead.

    The only thing that could make it worse is if their IT was running on Vista.

    1. SolidSquid

      Re: Oh Christ! We're all dead.

      We're all going to die!

  10. Paul Herber Silver badge

    In charge

    Like the cat's the one in charge of a house. The humans just live there.

  11. Chris King
    Mushroom

    Out of the frying pan...

    ...and into the rapidly expanding, toasty fireball.

    Not using the obvious icon for this, Crapita have a way of creating weapons-grade disasters at great cost to the taxpayer.

  12. Bavaria Blu

    £20 million a year to run a contacts database?!

    It seems liek a lot of money. What exactly do they do - can I get compensation if my house blows up after using an approved contractor on the list?

  13. Commswonk

    I'm Sorry I'll Write That Again...

    HSE director of regulation Philip White claimed the winning bid was the “strongest on cost and quality”

    should have read

    HSE director of regulation Philip White claimed the winning bid was the cheapest

  14. tel2016

    I misread:

    “expertise in harnessing digital technologies”

    as

    “expertise in hamstringing digital technologies”

  15. adam payne

    HSE director of regulation Philip White claimed the winning bid was the “strongest on cost and quality” and he is “confident” Capita will “continue to raise the standards of gas safety”.

    Philip has obviously isn't bothered about all the bad press they've had over almost every single government contract they've been awarded. What could go wrong?

  16. cd

    London's Burning!

    letters

  17. N2

    Crapita and gas...

    What could possibly go wrong?

    Just add a large dose of 'outsourced to India'

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      FAIL

      Just add a large dose of 'outsourced to India'

      That's already a given.

      You don't get to be the cheapest without using all the tricks.

      You'll note the whole C suite has been swapped out.

      So lot's of "startup costs" there....

  18. ICPurvis47 Bronze badge
    Flame

    Gas "Engineers"

    They are NOT Engineers. An Engineer is someone who has spent four to eight years studying to at least BSc level in an engineering discipline, and that does not include gas fitters, electricians, and car mechanics. In many foreign countries, including Canada and Germany (where I have worked) it is ILLEGAL to call onesself an Engineer unless one holds the correct qualifications. I'm afraid that a City and Guilds in Gas Fitting does not cut the mustard. It makes my blood boil when I see adverts stating that "One of our Engineers will be with you within three hours". No they won't, a gas fitter or other technician will come and fix your broken down boiler, an electrician will come and replace your blown socket, or a mechanic will come and fix your car engine, but not one of them will be qualified to be called an Engineer. It's about time the Institute of Mechanical Engineers and other regulatory bodies put a stop to this abuse of their qualification, and banned the use of the word Engineer except by those who are real Engineers. It is a pity that I can only add one icon, I would have liked to add a string of them right across the page.

    Iain C. Purvis MSc. GMIMechEng.

  19. ICPurvis47 Bronze badge
    Mushroom

    And while we're on the subject.....

    I'm afraid that I have had several bad experiences with so-called "Gas Engineers" in the past, both during the Gas Safe era and previously under the CORGI system. As a practicing Engineer myself, I would never trust a technician who is licensed under either CORGI or GSR to do a proper job.

    In one case, a relative had their gas fire serviced under a British Gas scheme, and afterwards noticed a smell emanating from the fireplace. On taking the front cover off the fire, I discovered that the main gas supply pipe was only finger tight, the fitter had not checked his work after reassembling the fire. A quick pinch up with the right sized spanner rectified the problem.

    In another case, a neighbour had a new gas fire fitted by a GORGI registered fitter, and some years later, whilst undergoing a yearly service by a GSR registered fitter (not the same one), it was discovered that the fire had not been fitted correctly, and was spilling Carbon Monoxide into the living room. This second fitter disconnected the fire and slapped a red sticker on it, to say that it had been condemned. After several attempts to get yet another fitter to go and rectify the situation, the fire is still out of service, as no-one will touch an appliance that has been condemned by a different fitter, and the fitter who condemned it won't touch it because he didn't install it in the first place. So my neighbour has been without a living room fire for the last 13 years.

    And gas fitters aren't the only ones who can be incompetent. I once had electric storage heaters installed by a registered electrician, but when the electricity company inspector came to inspect the installation, he refused to pass it because it did not have its own Earth Leakage Trip in addition the the existing one for the rest of the house. The installer came and added the ELT, but that was again condemned by the inspector because the installer had insisted on bypassing the ELT with a solid earth, thus rendering both ELTs inoperative. A three week long argument (in Slow Motion) ensued between these two bodies until I took the law into my own hands and removed the offending earth wire. Next time the inspector came, he was satisfied, and passed the system.

    I have worked in several different departments of a large electrical engineering company, and unless you know your stuff, you don't last long in that sort of environment.

  20. EnviableOne Silver badge

    WC A

    Just realised i can play with the CAPITA Name some more

    CAPITA-> CRAPITA-> CR*P PIT A-> Toilet A -> WCA

    why they are still on the HMG approved suppliers list, i will never know.

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