Carillion and libraries

Carillion ran several public library services from October 2013 until the firm collapsed in January 2018. Carillion purchased the libraries services (amongst other things) firm John Laing Intergrated Services (JLIS) as part of a deal with John Laing.  With this purchase, the company became de facto the largest provider of libraries in the country at the time (now surpassed by GLL), controlling the library services of four London authorities (Hounslow, Ealing, Croydon and Harrow). .

The library staff in these authorities found out about the transfer at roughly the same time as the rest of the world, with it being reported that the staff of at least one library service only found out after they noticed their work email addresses had been changed.  The change in ownership was especially noted in Croydon to Laing having only just taken over the service from the council – with it being only their third week of operation.

Outside of libraries, Carillion (along with 44 other companies) has been found accountable for the blacklisting of 14 of its workers for either being trade union members or being active in health and safety.

Within a month of taking over, on 20th November, Carillion put over 100 of their staff “at risk”, with the following announcement:

Cultural Community Solutions has announced details of proposed library restructure. As a result of significant developments in the way that local library services are now managed, Cultural Community Solutions has today (20th November) announced proposals for a new integrated staffing structure. This will enable  us to continue to deliver high quality library services across four London boroughs and ensure a sustainable future for the libraries. The proposed changes will take advantage of new technology and ways of working and will focus on streamlining back room functions.

The new structure will protect opening hours and frontline roles as well as creating a number of new positions to focus on the delivery of community outreach and engagement to ensure the library services are accessible to all our communities. Regrettably these proposed changes will put a number of jobs at risk, but we are making every effort to ensure that these losses will be no more than one full time post per library. We will also explore opportunities for redeployment across our wider business. We have now started a period of consultation with all affected staff and their recognised unions.” Carillion press release”

February 2018 – Fake Non-Profits – lies, damned lies and Carillion’s non-profit companies – Ed Mayo’s Blog. “When we look at the accounts submitted to Companies House, the story becomes visible. Cultural Community Solutions made no profit because it looks as if it has paid all of its profit out to others including companies in the Carillion family. From year to year, gross profit is simply eaten up by the ‘administrative expenses’. In 2016, they were exactly the same figure.” … “As a non-profit, they could also do something that other commercial, or indeed in-house services, could not, which is to claim discretionary relief on business rates payable on library premises. As with the big fostercare companies financed by offshore venture capital, designed to escape taxation, the financial profits this non-profit passed through to Carillion were in every possible way a gift from the taxpayer.” … “Anyone can call themselves a non-profit, just as many can claim to be a social enterprise, but there is an underlying first principle that needs to be recognised, as in the International Statement of Co-operative Identity, which is that of independence.”


  • #1 written by Christoph Bull
    about 6 years ago

    I am disgusted with how local councils are off loading their services and responsibilities. Libraries should all be council run along with many other services. Private companies are corrupt and useless- now with the collapse of Carillion this has been exposed- something I’d been saying ever since this stupidity was undertaken. Local authorities took over local government services as in house during the 1920s onwards was done to avoid all the filth we’ve been seeing.

  • #2 written by David Johnston
    about 6 years ago

    The pain caused by Carillion will I hope lead to better and more cost-effective services for Harrow, Ealing and Croydon. The reported financial status of Carillion has given the Councils the impetus to review seriously how library services can be made more efficient and how more income generating services can be accommodated. Outsourcing library services typically means that libraries are limited to those specific services for which they have been contracted. There is little incentive to provide better services and legal barriers to doing so.
    By taking library services back inhouse, Councils have access to the wide range of income streams now open to libraries. But are libraries up to managing these income streams? Library staff have been used to focus on maintaining costs within budgets with success measured by usage and library visits; the libraries represented cost centres which were managed as cost centres. Library staff need retraining in how to manage themselves as profit centres. Taking income from the public is not a crime if you are offering a service which the public want to pay for, and online services do not require more effort from library staff. Having written quite a number of business plans to convert public libraries into profit centres, I welcome the opportunity now available to Croydon, Harrow and Ealing libraries – I hope they grab this opportunity with both hands.

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