Shine A Light

Man loses job. What next? (He's G4S's Nick Buckles, by the way)

What happens after a government outsourcer fails shareholders and the public, and the boss loses his job? Nick Buckles gets £1,200,000 — and a pension of more than £400,000 a year.

Clare Sambrook
15 April 2014

Nick Buckles, ex-chief executive of government outsourcer G4S

Nick Buckles, chief executive of G4S, lost his job in May last year days after the government announced an inquiry into apparent charging 'errors' on Ministry of Justice contracts. It turned out that G4S had 'overcharged' for tagging and monitoring ex-offenders; they'd even charged for tagging dead people. Lately it's been discovered that they 'overcharged' for running court lock-ups too. They've had to pay back £109 million. That's an awful lot of dodgy accounting, or theft. 

Buckles was already under pressure after two gigantic failures. In 2011 G4S had to scrap a £5 billion bid for a cleaning and catering business, squandering £50 million in fees. Then came the London Olympics, when G4S failed to supply enough security guards and the government had to call in the Army.

He was just a company executive, not an entrepreneur, yet Buckles 'retired' aged 52, a wealthy man. He'd made a fortune of £20 million or more. 

How has life been since Buckles lost his job? Yesterday, G4S released its report and accounts for 2013. You can read it here. For people familiar with the way corporate remuneration works, no surprises. For the rest of us it's . . . well, see what you think:

In the twelve months since Buckles lost his job, they've carried on handing him £69,267 every month in "basic pay".

Is that enough?

Apparently not.

On top of that he gets a "cash allowance in lieu of pension". Another £27,666 every month.


Not quite. They've given him a car allowance of £1,667 every month. And paid his private medical insurance bills of £1,892.

Those monthly payments total £1,182,000.

To help him adjust to joblessness, they've handed him another £48,000 for "outplacement advice and services".

That's not all.

In "recognition of his long service", G4S gave Nick Buckles a present: value £12,890. 


We're told: "Nick Buckles did not receive any bonus payment for the duration of his 12 month notice period." No bonus. Must be tough.

When Buckles turns 60, there's a £411,600 annual pension coming his way.

A lot of people are losing jobs as austerity bites, losing benefits, losing homes. At G4S and other outsourcers who profit from austerity's chill, even failure pays.

The other day Francis Maude, the minister in charge of outsourcing, issued a written statement. He said G4S had "agreed to repay" £108.9 million to reimburse the taxpayer. He praised the company's efforts in what they're calling "corporate renewal". He said G4S was moving in "the right direction of travel to meet our expectations as a customer."

The "customer". That's us.

In case anybody should think that a £109 million 'overcharging' scam might perhaps knock the customer's trust in privatisation, Maude insisted: "The Government are committed to opening up public contracts, with a wide, diverse range of providers competing to deliver high-quality services."

A government spokeswoman said this meant that G4S was free again to bid for public contracts.

How did G4S's current chief executive Ashley Almanza welcome the news? "Our priorities now are to deliver outstanding service on existing contracts and to grow our business by competing for new Government services in areas where we have proven expertise and capability," he said.


G4S Grp CEO Ashley AlmanzaAlmanza came to G4S as finance director on 1 May last year on a basic salary of £625,000. That leapt to £820,000 a few weeks later when Buckles left and Almanza was hurriedly promoted. His first nine months' work so impressed his fellow directors that they gave him, on top of his salary, a £648,000 bonus. And so the forward march of G4S goes on.

Should Almanza fail to deliver "outstanding service" what's the worst that could happen to him? A style of unemployment that lies beyond the dreams of avarice? 

If "the customer" decides to vote this government out, what might become of Francis Maude? Last time he lost his seat he slid safely into directorships at Morgan Stanley, Salomon Brothers, Asda. 


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