Vulnerable Cumbernauld and Kilsyth based women have lost out as contract goes elsewhere

Women’s Aid has threatened legal action against North Lanarkshire council after losing out on a key contract – because the authority’s refuges do not work with offenders.

Sunday, 7th March 2021, 12:00 am
Updated Monday, 8th March 2021, 4:53 pm
Dr Marsha Scott

The Council was accused of being “callous” after the £350,000 annual payments to locally- based North Lanarkshire Women’s Aid and two others in the authority were removed after a new contract was struck with Secro, the offender rehabilitation organisation.

All three branches tendered for that contract but lost out because their work is reserved for the victims of violence, not the perpetrators.

Afterwards, Scottish Women’s Aid chief executive Dr Marsha Scott said: “While Women’s Aid services were busy responding to COVID-19 to continue providing their vital support for women, children and young people experiencing domestic abuse in North Lanarkshire, they were met with hostility in unnecessary, competitive tendering processes from North Lanarkshire Council that lacked both transparency and accountability.“This did not have to happen and the result is that North Lanarkshire is now the only local authority area in Scotland that does not commission Women’s Aid services.

"It is a sad reflection of their complete lack of understanding of the complex nature of domestic abuse and an upsetting dismissal of decades of work by grass-roots, local Women’s Aid services.

"Given the severity of the situation, and the direct risk to the rights and protections of women and children experiencing domestic abuse we are also carefully considering the legal options available to us.”

However a council spokesperson said that Serco won the tender which “was issued in accordance with the procurement regulations for these services”. She added: “It is untrue for Women’s Aid to suggest that the council has anything other than the welfare of people who require support in mind.”

"The council has not withdrawn any grant funding from Women’s Aid. A tender was issued in accordance with procurement regulations for these services and Women’s Aid chose to bid for that contract on a commercial basis. Women’s Aid were not successful. We’ll continue to work with local women’s aid groups for other services such as refuge provision.”