The controversial issue of North Ayrshire Council funding for the area’s Women’s Aid service was raised last week when councillors met for the last time this year.
As previously reported by the3towns.today, a new tendering process will see external providers of services to the Council’s Homelessness Service having to submit new bids to carry out work. The result could see amended contracts and reduced funding for charities like North Ayrshire Women’s Aid.
In a question pointing the finger of blame for possible cuts at the door of North Ayrshire Council’s SNP administration, Labour councillor Joe Cullinane (pictured left) asked for confirmation that “the current ‘Housing Support to Women Experiencing or at Risk of Violence/Domestic Abuse’ tender is a 22% cut to existing North Ayrshire Women’s Aid contracts for Refuge, Counselling Support and
Outreach services and does not include £134,000 of previous contracts for Children’s Services and Addiction Support?”
However, responding for the Council, Ardrossan SNP councillor Tony Gurney (pictured right), Cabinet member for Environment and Infrastructure, pointed-out that the cut to which Cllr Cullinane referred had actually been initiated in 2012 by the local authority’s previous Labour administration. Cllr Gurney also reminded Joe Cullinane that the SNP administration’s current budget had been supported by the Labour Group of councillors.
Explaining the Council’s position, Tony Gurney said, “The Homelessness Service has contracts in place with five different external providers, one of which is Women’s Aid, for various refuge accommodation, outreach, addiction, counselling and children’s services. These contracts expire on the 31st of March. In line with usual Council practice, as expiry dates approach, the services provided through these contracts have been reviewed to inform the forthcoming procurement exercise.
“In reviewing current service provision and drawing together revised specifications, the views of current providers and service users were sought along with best practice from other Councils, in particular neighbouring authorities. New contract specifications have been developed that remove duplication in provision, ensure service gaps are filled and focus on the need of service users, rather than service providers.”
Cllr Gurney indicated the proposed new contracts “will realise cost efficiencies, including those referred to in the question. However, this cannot be fully established until tender prices have been received and submissions evaluated.”