Council admits it ‘badly managed’ Salvation Army’s contract non-renewal
After 17 years, the council decided not to extend the Salvation Army’s £95,000-a-year contract to deliver homelessness services in York when it expired on September 30. On November 14, the health, housing and adult social care scrutiny committee heard two bosses at the Salvation Army criticise how the council handled the contract’s nonrenewal.
“We were a little bit disappointed as an organisation around the communication regarding the contract,” Tony Thornton said. “It wasn’t helpful that my service manager got to know via the press that the contract was ending.”
Mr Thornton also said it was “concerning” that the Salvation Army produced a report on how to further tackle homelessness in the city, which would have been discussed with the council but now will not.
Neil Ferris, corporate director of economy and place at the City of York Council, said: “Both parties recognised that the conclusion of this contract was not communicated well.”
However, Mr Ferris added: “The two organisations had a contract. It was known to both parties when that contract ended. When we signed up to that contract, everybody knew that that contract ended on September 30.”
However he added that “absolutely both parties reflect that it was badly managed.”
The council announced the decision not to renew the contract in September, saying it would invest £260,000 of a government grant in developing its own team to eradicate rough sleeping by May 2027.
Councillors, including the Conservative Coun Martin Rowley, criticised the decision itself.
Coun Rowley said: “I find it incredible that a decision to increase the spending of the local authority by bringing a service in-house can be more cost-effective over the long term, than contracting the service out to a skilled and reputable organisation such as the Salvation Army.
“It is clear that any funding from central government is temporary. While the local authority has been successful in securing funding for the current initiative, it seems short-sighted that this solution will be future-proof.”
The executive member for housing, Coun Michael Pavlovic, was not part of the decision to not renew the Salvation Army’s contract due to a conflict of interest.
He said: “This administration is committed to ending rough sleeping in this city and we will achieve that. We are working very closely with stakeholders, including the Salvation Army but others as well, and service users, in the design of a wrap-around service.”
Coun Pavlovic added: “That is the way forward.”