Sunderland City Council approves £250,000 domestic abuse and refuge service contract tender

Sunderland Civic Centre.
Sunderland Civic Centre.

Council chiefs have agreed to put a contract worth more than £250,000 to provide domestic abuse and refuge services in Sunderland out to tender.

The contract for housing-related support for people at risk of, or experiencing, domestic abuse is currently delivered by Wearside Women in Need.

Coun Henry Trueman.

Coun Henry Trueman.

However, as previously reported by the Echo, that comes to an end in July, and will not be renewed by the council.

Now, cabinet members have agreed a report - titled Procurement of Crisis Refuge Accommodation and Specialist Domestic Abuse outreach - by Executive Director of People Services, Fiona Brown.

It reads: "The purpose of the report is to seek approval for the procurement of Crisis Refuge Accommodation and Specialist Domestic Abuse outreach for the period of July 2017 – July 2019."

The contractual arrangements with Wearside Women in Need will end on July 13, and the authority will now seek to appoint a new provider.

The two-year-contact up for grabs is worth more than £250,000.

Deputy council leader Henry Trueman presented the report in absence of Coun Gaeme Miller, who is the relevant portfolio holder for health, housing and adult services.

Coun Trueman said: "This report is what we have been saying for months and it is now putting into context by the cabinet all the lies that have been said on the subject."

He added: "The reduction in funding of these services will lead to reduction in refuge places."

However, Coun Trueman stressed that other services will take their place, to help ensure all issues are addressed.

He said these will create greater 'resilience and independence for survivors' and confirmed the council will meet all its statutory obligations.

The report read: "The current contractual arrangements include the provision of support into building based, refuge accommodation in the following areas of the city: Sunderland, Washington and Houghton.

"In addition to the building-based provision, the contract also covers an outreach/floating support service.

"The primary purpose of this service is to support people to successfully maintain independent living and operates city-wide.

"These contractual arrangements will end on 13 July 2017.

"A range of partners currently commission services independently of each other across the city.

"The aim is to bring together those funding streams to support outcomes; however, there will be a significant reduction in the level of resources available in the new model, across all partner agencies, albeit there will be appropriate mitigation in place to help manage the risks of reduced funding."

Coun Trueman added: "Let's get on with the job we have got to do."

Cabinet unanimously agreed the report.