Kettering housing charity loses out on vital £30,000 funding

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jpns-19-09-14-008 agenda homeless gv pic 1 PPP-140918-102755001
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A Kettering charity says it has missed out on £30,000 in council funding because its team is too small, despite delivering ‘exceptional’ results.

Accomodation Concern had its Housing Options Advice contract ended at a meeting last week, meaning it will lose the funding from the end of March 2017.

The money was instead awarded to Citizens Advice (CAB), after it scored a higher procurement score.

An Accomodation Concern statement said: “The only stated reason given by KBC is that Accommodation Concern scored less during their procurement process as they currently have a small staff team and the council is worried about the organisation’s capacity to deliver the contract.

“Accommodation Concern has pointed out that this small staff team has not hampered our ability to deliver the Housing Advice Project in the past and that we have achieved exceptional results on this project.

“Kettering Council has ratified its decision and has refused any right of appeal.

“The core staff team is small but highly professional and dedicated, giving advice that has resulted in many positive outcomes such as preventing homelessness, assisting people into jobs and training, helping people with budgeting and debt and to claim relevant benefits and challenge decisions which may harm or disadvantage vulnerable people.

“This cut by KBC runs the risk of a becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy, but if KBC opted instead to back the charity and offer it as much support – financial and other – as they are able, then together KBC with Accommodation Concern could continue to make a real and lasting difference to the lives of residents within the Kettering borough.”

Opposition leader Cllr Mick Scrimshaw says it is likely that Citizens Advice are not housing experts.

He said: “Citizens Advice do a great job but they are not housing experts and don’t have a track record in this field, often sending their clients to Accommodation Concern for help.

“The decision was taken after council officers received bids for the grant from the two separate organisations and scored them on a points system relating to a number of questions.

“Unfortunately details of how this scoring system worked or any details relating to the bids or the organisations themselves were not presented to the meeting.”

The Northants Telegraph asked Kettering Council to comment on the decision but was instead directed to a council report.

The report read: “The council will continue to provide £30,000 per year to provide housing options advice services, primarily focused on helping those people to whom the council does not have a statutory duty.

“At present, that service is provided, under a service level agreement, by Accommodation Concern, and from April 2017, it will be provided instead by the Citizens Advice Bureau.

“This decision was taken after the council sought bids from voluntary sector organisations to provide this service over the next four years, and CAB was judged to have made a better bid against the specification.

“We look forward to working more closely with CAB in future, and want to say thank you to Accommodation Concern who have helped very many people over the years, and who we are sure will continue to do so.”