Catering Services in the House of Commons

Written evidence submitted by Sharon Wroe, HCDC Liaison Officer, Ministry of Defence

On site catering for UK civilian establishments is mainly provided through Regional Prime Contracts administered by Defence Estates or under Multi Activity Contracts placed by individual Top Level Budget holders.

UK based service personnel are primarily catered for through Catering, Retail and Leisure (CRL) contracts which incorporates Pay as You Dine arrangements. These are being introduced across the UK and account for some 60% of service personnel fed.

For UK Armed Forces personnel ‘in barracks’ (when personnel are not being fed under CRL contracts) there is a single food supply contract with Purple Foodservice Solutions Ltd managed by the Defence Food Services Team.

The contracts cover the whole range of catering requirements ranging from canteen, restaurant and mess facilities & refreshments for meetings, to vending machines and on-site shops.

The arrangements at the Ministry of Defence’s head office, Main Building, may provide a more useful comparison for the Committee. Catering is provided under a PFI contract covering soft and hard facilities services. The PFI contract includes a management charge for the provision of a catering service, which is required to meet certain standards and to be delivered at a cost competitive with local external providers. The catering itself is designed to be self-financing; the income stream is generated through a combination of personal/staff consumption and business support requirements as detailed below. The offering for personal/staff consumption must be competitive with the myriad of alternative outlets in the vicinity; as to the official hospitality, this must be provided in accordance with the official MOD hospitality and allowance rates. The catering contractor is not charged rental or for utilities.

The catering provision in MOD Main Building falls into two categories:

· Support to staff in their personal capacity, for which they pay themselves and comprises:

o Staff restaurant; providing hot and cold food throughout the working day

o A small shop; providing sandwiches, snacks, and other useful items throughout the working day

o Coffee Bar; provided at the contractor’s initiative, risk and cost.

o Vending Machines; drinks and snack machines have been provided throughout the building (the numbers are due to be significantly reduced)

· Support to business, which is paid for by Business Units and comprises:

o Support to meetings; teas/coffees, biscuits

o Working lunches; normally buffet style

o Receptions and events, with drinks, buffet, etc

o Executive Dining; a higher standard of offering, affording senior staff the opportunity to entertain visitors within the MOD Main Building, with attendant logistic and security benefits.

October 2010