Home » Fujitsu to cut UK jobs as Post Office scandal fallout hits sales | Computer Weekly

Fujitsu to cut UK jobs as Post Office scandal fallout hits sales | Computer Weekly

Fujitsu is cutting about 100 jobs in the UK as the fallout from its central role in the Post Office scandal hits its sales pipeline.

The IT supplier has put nearly 70 members of staff at risk of redundancy and about 30 are leaving. Sales, pre-sales and logistics jobs are affected.

According to a source, Fujitsu’s pause on bidding for government contracts, along with reduced demand from public and private sector customers as a result of the supplier’s public shaming, will reduce sales this year.  

Fujitsu has come under heavy criticism and scrutiny in the UK after ITV’s dramatisation of the Post Office Horizon scandal, Mr Bates vs the Post Office, aired at the beginning of the year.

The supplier has provided the Horizon software and support to the Post Office and subpostmasters since 1999. The software had major defects that caused accounting shortfalls, for which subpostmasters were blamed, with many wrongly prosecuted as a result. Fujitsu played a role in helping the Post Office hide knowledge of errors from subpostmasters, blaming the users instead.

Between 1999 and 2015, hundreds of subpostmasters and branch staff were wrongly prosecuted by the Post Office and convicted for accounting shortfalls, which were proved in the High Court, in 2018/19, to have been caused by Horizon errors. Many more were financially ruined.

In January this year, Fujitsu’s European boss, Paul Patterson, promised to stop bidding for government work until after the completion of the statutory public inquiry into the Post Office scandal. 

During questioning by MPs at a business and trade select committee hearing in January, Patterson acknowledged Fujitsu’s part in the scandal, telling MPs and victims: “We were involved from the start; we did have bugs and errors in the system, and we did help the Post Office in their prosecutions of subpostmasters. For that, we are truly sorry.”

The pause in bidding does not include bidding for work with existing customers or instances where the government requests it, but Fujitsu’s sales in the UK have taken a huge hit.

At this time last year, the IT giant had won seven UK public sector contracts worth over £65m, but data from Tussell Group shows just one deal this year – a £155,000 software support contract with the National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL).

By April 2023, Fujitsu had signed a £25m deal with Bristol City Council, a £16m contract with the Post Office, a deal worth £13m with Northern Ireland Water, an £8m deal with the Ministry of Defence, two deals with the Department for Education totalling £3m, and a contract with Leeds City Council worth up to £100,000.

After the announcement of its first UK government contract of the year, with the NNL, there was heavy criticism. Following this, the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero defended the reason for Fujitsu’s new deal and suggested it might replace the supplier next year.

“NNL requires bespoke software to ensure its work remains compliant with operationally critical regulations. There are currently no other suitable suppliers, and without re-awarding this contract, the NNL would be unable to fulfil its regulatory duties,” said a spokesperson.

The department added that the NNL would “consider all options once the contract comes to an end in March 2025, including exploring in-house solutions”.

There is also huge pressure from MPs and the public for Fujitsu to contribute financially to the costs of the Post Office scandal, already estimated to be over £1.2bn.

Fujitsu told Computer Weekly: “Having reviewed its requirements for certain resources in the UK, Fujitsu confirms that it will be reducing a small number of roles in parts of its UK business.  Discussions have now started on the reduction of approximately 100 roles.  A full consultation process will take place with all employees impacted by this change.”

The Post Office scandal was first exposed by Computer Weekly in 2009, revealing the stories of seven subpostmasters and the problems they suffered due to the accounting software (see timeline of Computer Weekly articles about the scandal below).

• Also read: What you need to know about the Horizon scandal

• Also watch: ITV’s documentary – Mr Bates vs The Post Office: The real story