Friday, 27 November 2020

School meals not hit by company collapse

CHILDREN across Oxfordshire will still receive their school meals despite the company which provides them going into liquidation.

Carillion served about 18,000 pupils across 90 schools in the county as well as providing cleaning services.

The company had run into difficulty after losing money on big contracts and running up huge debts. Talks with its lenders and the Government failed to reach a deal to save it.

Oxfordshire County Council announced on Monday that it had taken over the services provided by Carillion and that affected staff were told to report for work as usual.

The authority has been planning for the possibility of the company’s collapse for some time and the fire service has been placed on standby to deliver the meals in case of any problems.

Alexandra Bailey, the council’s director for property, assets and investment, said: “We are confident no child will go hungry at school.

“We thank schools for their support and understanding as we deal with the situation. I’d also like to thank staff for continuing to do a great job during a period of uncertainty and to reassure them that the county council will ensure staff are paid.”

In July, the council took back most of its contracts from Carillion to meet changes to its property and estate needs.

A few services, including the delivery of school meals and cleaning services, were due to continue until March 31 at which time they would transfer to the council along with about 250 catering and cleaning staff. The company’s liquidation meant this was brought forward.

The council had a back-up plan in the event of this happening and had been talking to headteachers at affected schools to ask them to reassure their catering and cleaning staff that their roles were secure.

It signed a 10-year contract with Carillion in 2012 to provide a range of services including routine property management, facilities management, energy management and the design and build of capital work such as building new schools and new classrooms.

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