Commissioning failure at AWC

Adur & Worthing Councils are presiding over a chaotic and unnecessary commissioning fiasco which has put the jobs of 8 branch members at risk.

After decades of grant funding to voluntary sector development charities Adur Voluntary Action and Voluntary Action Worthing, Adur & Worthing Councils (AWC) decided to put the work out to competitive tender.

Most unfortunately, AWC did not confirm the full value of the tender, and 40% of the funding was tied up with West Sussex County Council monies, which are themselves under threat due to a £2.9million reduction from central government in Public Health funding.

With no contract value confirmed, Brighton Community Works – who controversially bid for and then won the contract despite having no local roots or experience in Adur and Worthing – understandably are reticent to sign. By signing they could be accepting staff liabilities which they cannot afford, due to the contract value potentially not covering the cost of all the staff who are eligible to transfer under TUPE. That would then put Brighton Community Works’ cash reserves at risk. But by bidding in such an uncertain environment, for a botched contract, they have inadvertently put all the staff’s jobs at risk of redundancy! And all the social capital the two local charities have generated over decades could be destroyed – hardly the intention of the commissioners!

UNISON West Sussex called on AWC to provide emergency bridging funding of 3 months to give all parties a chance to sort out the contract mess. AWC have now done this. Meanwhile UNISON West Sussex Branch Officer James Ellis is supporting our members and ensuring they get all the legal advice they need to protect their jobs and the services they are committed to.

Branch Secretary Dan Sartin was interviewed by BBC South Today about the fiasco for their evening bulletins on 5th April. Dan made the point that far from being more efficient or cost-effective, the whole process has cost AWC thousands of pounds of taxpayers money and endangered the services.

south-today-05.04.16We should know soon how the tale will finally unfold and will keep all our members informed of progress.