Public Private Partnerships: The great wealth extractor


  • Stewart Smyth


The collapse of the construction and facilities management company, Carillion in January 2018 generated two significant impacts in Ireland. First, it exposed the precarious structure of the construction industry, where companies like Carillion rely upon smaller firms to take on work as sub-contractors. When the collapse came, the subcontractors were left being owed substantial sums of money; this is what sparked the protests outside the Dail and the pickets outside the schools in Bray, Co. Wicklow last summer. Second, the collapse has once again brought the discussion about the nature and role of Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) to the fore. PPPs enable private companies like Carillion to profit from public money through building, financing and maintaining public infrastructure assets, such as schools, hospital and roads. Carillion’s collapse delayed the delivery of five new schools and a college in Ireland and two hospitals in England. This article concentrates on the second impact and explores the nature and role of PPPs within Britain and Ireland.