THE catering contract for the Department of Social Security in Newcastle-upon-Tyne faces another shake-up following a private finance initiative project that will merge 11 sites into four.

After months of uncertainty, Aramark finally won a two-year contract in November, worth an annual £1.5m, to feed 8,500 staff at the DSS’s main Longbenton site. Sutcliffe and Quadrant run some of the smaller sites.

The services company involved in the PFI project, Building and Property, will subcontract most services but the DSS is to keep control of its troubled catering contract, which both Sutcliffe and Eurest have previously quit. About 10,700 staff will be moved into four sites, two of them new buildings, to be completed by 2003.

A DSS spokesman said it was too early to confirm plans for the catering contract.

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