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Express & Star comment: Carillion collapse a black day for us all

By Star Comment | Opinions | Published:

Despite the terrible uncertainty that has surrounded Carillion in recent weeks, few of us expected to wake up yesterday morning to the news that the construction giant had collapsed.

A rainbow appeared above Carillion's Wolverhampton headquarters but storm clouds are gathering

The impact on the Black Country and Staffordshire cannot be overstated.

Up to 450 staff at the firm's Wolverhampton base now face an uncertain future, while their pensions are at risk.

And in the wider supply chain there are thousands of small business suppliers that do not know whether or not they will ever get paid for work that has already been completed.

More background on Carillion collapse

Over the coming weeks we are likely to see that the fall of Carillion has put plenty of connected firms in serious trouble.

Those that were part of the Carillion supply chain will have serious concerns about meeting their liabilities.

Of the many questions that require detailed answers, surely the most pertinent centres on the Government's role in this whole debacle.

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It appears that ministers were the only people who were not fully aware of the extent of the problems faced by Carillion.

While they insist that the firm was being monitored, it is quite frankly, unbelievable that no representative of the Cabinet was tasked with keeping an eye on operations for more than three months.

It is hardly surprising that questions are being asked as to why Carillion was awarded billions of pounds worth of public contracts when it was clearly in such dire straits.

The Government says that only a small number of contracts were awarded after the July 2017 profit warning.

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Privately, it is fair to assume that ministers hoped that the new business – including a £1.4 billion HS2 contract – would provide the boost the firm so desperately required.

Whatever the reasoning behind it, the plan failed.

And as is so often the case in such circumstances, the taxpayer ends up footing the bill, with the Government set to provide funding to maintain the public services run by Carillion.

As for the future of projects such as the Midland Metropolitan Hospital, which has already been delayed for a year, it is very much a case of 'watch this space'.

Yesterday was Blue Monday, supposedly the most depressing day of the year.

It was a black day for Wolverhampton, a black day for the Black Country, and a black day for Britain.

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