15 January 2018 | Herpreet Kaur Grewal
Oxfordshire County Council has taken over services provided by Carillion including some school meals and cleaning, after the news that the support service provider has gone into liquidation.
Affected staff are being asked to report for work as usual. The county council has been planning for the possibility of Carillion's collapse for some time, and schools have been closely involved.
Carillion supplies meals to around 18,000 students at 90 schools.
Alexandra Bailey, the council's director for property, assets and investment, said: "We expect school staff will be in work as normal today but if this doesn't happen we will provide school lunches to schools needing support, and the fire service are on standby to deliver them. We are confident that 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."
Most of the council's contracts with Carillion are being transferred back to the county council, following an agreement made last July in response to the council's changing property and estate needs. However, a few services were continuing until the end of March.
Among those continuing to the end of March are facilities management involving the delivery of school dinners and cleaning services.
These had been due to transfer to the county council on 31 March, along with the employment of around 250 catering and cleaning staff currently employed by Carillion. But after today's announcement that plan has been brought forward.
The council's back-up plan if the company went into liquidation included contacting head teachers at affected schools to ask them to reassure their catering and cleaning staff that their roles are secure, and that the county council would ensure staff are paid.
The county council signed a 10-year contract with Carillion in 2012 to provide a range of services including key support services such as routine property management, facilities management, energy management and the design and build of capital work such as building new schools and new classrooms.