Council chiefs have railed against a company involved in continuing public services in the aftermath of collapsed construction firm Carillion for ‘raking in millions’ from the debacle.
Senior cabinet members and officers in Tameside have revealed that they may have to ask for support from Whitehall for meeting the costs of the fallout after the company went bust in January 2018.
PricewaterhouseCooopers (PwC) were appointed by the insolvency services’ Official Receiver – who is overseeing the liquidation of Carillion – as a ‘special manager’ to enable the continuity of public and private sector services.
The company took over the delivery of catering and facilities management at schools in Tameside after Carillion went bust for an interim period.
Last year bosses had estimated that the final bill to the company would stand at around £1 million which had not been budgeted for.
At a meeting of the strategic planning and capital monitoring panel on Monday, November 25, Conservative Councillor Doreen Dickinson asked why it was taking nearly two years to finalise contractual arrangements for a school expansion at Aldwyn primary school.
The cabinet report states that plans for a two classroom extension, which would increase intake from 45 pupils to 60, had been delayed in part due to the Carillion collapse.
The council’s director of governance, Sandra Stewart, responded that they understood that it had been going on for some time, but issues with PwC was partly to blame.
“I would also say that we’re still in very protracted and painful conversations with PwC who are the liquidator on this, who are making an awful lot of money out of trying to argue that the public purse should pay more money towards the works that we’ve had done,” she said.
“So that hasn’t been at all helpful and I think at some point we are going to have to approach government for some support because I don’t think it was ever intended that they should make money off the back of deciding if we give money to actual building works or to a company that’s gone bust.
“But that is where the delay is significantly with PwC.”
Cabinet member for employment, Coun Ged Cooney, claimed the company was ‘raking in millions’ from charging authorities who had been caught up in the ‘debacle’ following the collapse of Carillion.
“We’re going on about Carillion, go on about PwC who are charging us millions for workers that already work here, for building hospitals that can’t be finished in Liverpool, buildings here not finished, schools not finished around the country,” he said.
“There should be some point that the government steps in and tells them to stop it – stop ripping everyone off.
“It’s a disgrace what they’re doing.”
Council leader Brenda Warrington added that ‘in the scheme of things’ two years was not that long considering the ‘mess that Carillion left this country in’.
“PwC who are making a lot of money on the back of this and it really is not acceptable and I really do think once this election is over this is one of things that I would hope can be tackled,” she said.
PwC clarified that they are not the liquidator, and the company’s work as Special Manager and has been on behalf of and under the direction of the Official Receiver – who is the liquidator.