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Purchasing a security service on price alone can be hazardous. Buying ‘cheap security’ could mean that you end up with officers who are very poorly paid and have no real interest in the job. These security companies are usually operating on a shoestring, which means that they have no back up, no checks on the officers and no local control centre.
Can a security guarding company really only charge £7.00-£8.00 an hour?
We are increasingly finding competitors charging ridiculously low prices to win business. Does it work? Yes, of course it does, they win the business on price and everyone is happy. But are they?
As a customer, what sort of Security Service can you really expect for £7.00 per hour?
Let us start with the basics:
• UK minimum wage is now £6.50 per hour
• As an employer, there is a requirement to pay employees for holidays – Assuming the officers are getting 20 days plus UK bank holidays then this would equate to around £38 per week per officer in holiday expense. On an average of 48 hours per week, this takes the cost per employee up to approximately £7.45 per hour.
• In addition, employers have to pay National Insurance for each employee, which again is calculated as a percentage. The current rate is 12% of earnings so the cost per hour is now approximately £7.98 per employee per hour.
• On top of the employee costs, there are then additional costs such as Uniform and PPE – in the security industry this is a generally accepted figure of around 8% of the wage cost. The cost per employee per hour is now approximately £8.72.
• We haven’t even factored in to the figure other costs such as capital purchases like equipment, training, supervisor visits, plus the general everyday costs associated with running a business.
• Oh and, of course, not forgetting profit!
Now ask yourself, “How can anyone charge £7.00-£8.00 per hour and offer a reliable, quality service?”
This is something we come up against every day in our business.
Put simply, it is impossible for any professional Security Company to offer a reliable, safe and quality service for those sorts of prices.
Are these companies SIA approved contractors?
Approved contractors are demonstrably committed to customer service and the compulsory licensing of their staff. This means their customers can rest assured that every private security operative deployed on their premises will be working within the law.
So how and why do companies do it?
The only way that could possibly be done is if they are using staff on a self-employed basis to get out of paying PAYE/National Insurance contributions, and holiday pay. This of course breaches Employment Law because according to Revenue and Customs employment regulations NO Security Officer can technically be self-employed because they are told where to work and when, and cannot send somebody else to cover their shift.
In our experience, another trick they use is to start to reduce the number of hours spent on site over a period of time.
For example if you are paying for a security officer to be on site Mon-Sun 1800-0600, and Sat-Sun days 0600-1800 this gives a total of 108 hours per week, and at £7.50 per hour this is costing you £810 per week.
What often happens unbeknown to you is the officer is pulled off site midway through a shift, for say a couple of hours to cover another job down the road. This not only leaves your site unattended, and vulnerable it also means that you are now only getting an officer for 94 hours per week but you will still be paying £810 per week.

So in addition to the 2 hours per day the officer is off site during the week before you know it you are not even getting 94 hours of cover you are now only getting 70 hours cover per week! But you can be sure you are still paying £810 per week for the 108 hours of cover you think you are getting. Therefore, the £285 per week you are paying out for cover that you are not getting is where they are making their money.
This is how they are able to quote such ridiculously low rates, and make a profit! As you can see they only need say four sites like this, and that’s £1140 per week or £59,280 per annum they are making just by not covering those sites!
By all means, especially in the current economic climate, businesses should shop around for a competitive price but that price needs to be realistic and it needs to be relative to the quality of service you want and need to receive. If one security company is charging considerably less than the others, work out how much you are paying per hour and then ask yourself can they really afford to charge that price?
Like most things in life, if something seems too good to be true then it probably is.
Better to utilise the services of a company that pay their guards a living wage and have the resources to keep a check on their officers’movements and activities, and have the back up to respond to any situation that occurs. True, this may cost the client more, but what price do you put on your property, your security and your peace of mind? The saying ‘you get what you pay for’ is never more true than when it is applied to security companies, so digging a little deeper into your pockets will be far less painful in the long run than utilising bargain basement companies to appease the bean counters.