Ministers have been considering whether the work, involving 12 Magnox nuclear plants and research sites, should be offered to another private contractor or run directly by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.
The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority has been suffering a bout of bad press of late. March saw the business secretary cancel a deal with Cavendish Flour Partnership (a decision which leaves the British taxpayer £122million out of pocket). More recently, damning reports commissioned by the government and the National Audit Office questioned the NDA’s ability to handle complex procurements and heavily criticised systematic failings. These high profile reproaches mean rumours are now rife that ministers will not entrust a future procurement to the NDA and may well bring Magnox “in-house” to prevent another outsourced deal increasing costs.If Magnox were brought back into the NDA, the government would make a saving as the incentives paid to a private sector company under a parent body agreement would no longer be factored in. It will be interesting to see, in that case, whether the government takes the decision to keep the budget as it currently stands to facilitate more decommissioning or reduce the level of spending by the amount that incentives would otherwise have cost. If the budget remains at its current level, third and fourth tier companies further down the supply chain may well find the purse-strings loosening but the government’s next move remains to seen.