Firefighters across Oxfordshire are prepared to deliver emergency packed lunches to schools in the aftermath of the services giant Carillion going into receivership.
Oxfordshire County Council said it had been preparing for problems for some time and promised ‘no child will go hungry’.
Carillion was contracted to provide lunches for 90 schools in the county including Fringford and Enstone in north Oxfordshire.
The county, which has been preparing for Carillion’s collapse for some time, has taken over services provided by Carillion including cleaning. Affected staff were asked to report for work as usual.
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 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 county 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 these that were continuing to the end of March was facilities management involving the delivery of school dinners and cleaning services.
These had been due to transfer to the county council on March 31 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 had a back-up plan in case the company went into liquidation. This has 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 will 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.