How much big firms get from government; what to do if you’re TUPE-ed

I’ve had two more features published by the Register. The first uses Freedom of Information and open data to analyse which IT suppliers earn what from government, while the second provides a guide to what to expect if you’re exiting, courtesy of the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006, better known as TUPE.

On the first, looking at five of the biggest-spending departments, I found that HP earned £1.34bn in 2012-13 – exclusive of VAT, and subject to a few caveats mentioned in the article. BT earned £970m in that year, around half from the NHS National Programme for IT, which is doing pretty well for something that the government has supposedly abolished.

This kind of exercise, which I previously carried out for Government Computing, represents plenty of work. But it has got a bit easier: of the five departments I asked for data, four provided it within the 20 working day deadline, mostly in machine-readable formats – something I could open in a spreadsheet, rather than a locked-down PDF (the latter used to be the norm). The Ministry of Defence refused… because it has started publishing a bigger version of the data I wanted online. (Specifically, it publishes its top 300+ suppliers – all that receive more than £5m in a year – while I asked for the top 100.) That’s the kind of FOI refusal I’m delighted to receive.

The article on TUPE is designed to provide advice to anyone who has just been told that their contracts are about to be sold on to another employer under this regulation, which is an awful lot better than nothing, but still leaves transferring employees subject to a range of perils.

The piece contains one bit of advice worth considering in advance, however: the time you find out you are subject to TUPE is a time to be grateful you are already a member of a union or a professional association that can provide you with legal and practical advice. I have been through TUPE myself, and the support of my union, the National Union of Journalists, was incredibly valuable. If you work in any of the fields listed here, which include PR and communications as well as all types of editorial role, you can join the NUJ.