Link angry over council decision

Another provider has been chosen, angering th Link Group
Another provider has been chosen, angering th Link Group

A tenancy support organisation has blasted the local authority’s contract procurement process.

Link Living has been working in partnership with Falkirk Council for 11 years, but was shocked to discover the council’s powerful policy and resources committee had agreed to award the £350,000 a year tenancy support services contract to Glasgow-based Ypeople.

Elaine Johnston, Link Living director, said: “We are disappointed by the decision, but also by the procurement process.”

During Tuesday’s meeting council officers stated they had gone with the Ypeople tender because it was “the most financially advantageous choice” and Link Living’s bid was “nowhere near as good”.

Ypeople’s contract will see them provide the tenancy support service for three years up to September 30, 2015, with the option to extend that by a further 12 months.

It will take over the role Link Living had fulfilled for the last decade, supporting a diverse range of people, who for different reasons need varying levels of help to set up and sustain their own tenancy - including assistance with rent and benefits, decoration and furniture and getting on with neighbours.

Falkirk SNP Group leader Cecil Meiklejohn said: “Link Living has been a partner Falkirk Council has worked with for a number of years, providing a key service locally, so I’m surprised we are now in the position of having a different provider for this service.

“Link were quite surprised to be phoned up by someone before this meeting who told them they had not won the contract. It was upsetting for Link Living to be informed this way - it’s not a good way to find out.

“The cost of the tender awarded is £350,000, but Link Living’s bid was only £303,000 and that does raise some concerns.”

Council officers responded, telling Mrs Meiklejohn reports were available for all to see on the council website prior to meetings and although the figure quoted for the contract was £350,000, the Ypeople tender was well below that and less than Link Living’s bid.

Council leader Craig Martin said: “Ypeople was the best tender put forward - the Link Living tender was nowhere near as good as far as I am aware.”

The report stated a detailed evaluation identified the bid from Ypeople as the most economically advantageous and its tender ranked first in both quality and price elements.

As well as Falkirk Council, Link Living has worked in partnership with a number of local authorities including Edinburgh, East Lothian, Midlothian and Fife providing 2500 hours of practical support, advice and care to hundreds of vulnerable adults and young people every week.

Based in Callendar Business Park, Link also works with over 100 volunteers through various projects - including Smart Move - giving them the skills and confidence to take control of their own lives and help others do the same.

Ypeople, formerly YMCA Glasgow, is an independent registered charity that provides support to vulnerable groups and individuals including the homeless, refugees, asylum seekers and young people to enable them to adapt to change and improve their quality of life.

The organisation has already been working with Falkirk Council, providing hostel services to young people in the Falkirk area.

According to the council report Ypeople propose securing suitable, centrally located, premises in Falkirk to deliver the service, providing a staff base and a call-in point for service users.

Before they secure the property, Ypeople will share premises with a partner agency. If required, the council will assist them in sourcing appropriate accommodation.

A transition manager will be appointed from within Ypeople to ensure a smooth transition in the run up to the new provider taking over from October 1.