Whitehall and wider public sector checks its exposure to Carillion's collapse

The contractor employs almost 20,000 people in the UK

Labour's shadow Cabinet Office minister Jon Trickett accused the Government of being "recklessly complacent" by attempting to lay sole blame for Carillion's collapse on the company. There has to be an urgent inquiry into how a company that loaded itself with debt, which undercut competitors with unsustainable bids, which hoovered up vats of public money, and that had repeatedly alerted the government to its own financial shortcomings got its hands on so much of the public sector and taxpayers' cash.

The lenders pulled out after the government refused to guarantee the firm's debts, leaving Carillion without the cashflow required to continue as a business.

Major contractor Carillion has today gone into compulsory liquidation, putting thousands of jobs at risk.

The company employs 43,000 people worldwide, including 20,000 in the UK.

Simon Revington, analyst at City Index, said it was "more than surprising, possibly even negligent" that the United Kingdom government continued to dish out contracts to Carillion even though their future has looked uncertain for some time.

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Carillion said the government will provide funds to ensure essential government services carried out by Carillion staff will continue.

The government has told Carillion employees to go to work as normal and confirmed that they would be paid.

The demise of the 200-year-old business poses a headache for Theresa May's government which had employed Carillion to work on 450 projects including the building and maintenance of hospitals, prisons, defense sites and a high-speed rail line.

Northern Ireland workers now face the threat of "large-scale redundancy" after staff working for infrastructure giant Carillion were sent home yesterday, after it entered liquidation - six months after it issued a profits warning.

Carillion needed £300m of short-term funding to survive, but its bankers were reluctant to commit to any lending without support from the government, Sky News reported.

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Media reports cited Carillion's biggest problems as cost overruns on three big public sector construction projects in Britain.

Tussell, which runs a database of government contracts in Britain, estimates that Carillion was awarded government contracts worth £1.3 billion after the company issued its first profit warning in July.

An order has been granted to appoint the Official Receiver as the liquidator of Carillion.

"In the meantime - as emergency meetings take place between officials - employees of Carillion, pension-holders and taxpayers will want assurances that financial protections are in place in the event the supplier experiencing further financial difficulties".

Company chairman Philip Green described the development as a "very sad day" for the company's staff, suppliers and customers. The action we have taken is created to keep vital public services running, rather than to provide a bailout on the failure of a commercial company.

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