Post by Colin Henderson on Mar 13, 2012 14:12:47 GMT
ilegal is not.... scottish. But I am!
So I was saddened to learn of this emerging fiasco. I post it because it illustrates the ignominious mess that is created when local authorities go out to competitive tender among advice agencies, something we know all about in England recently:
"42 jobs axed as Bureau shuts offices
FIVE Citizens Advice Bureau offices in some of the most deprived parts of Glasgow are to close.
The offices in Easterhouse, Pollok, Castlemilk, Parkhead and Bridgeton will shut on March 31 and mean the loss of 42 jobs. The move comes after the city council had invited organisations to bid for providing advice services to local people.
The tender was split into four and a consortium of the eight city CAB offices, along with other groups, were awarded two. The other two went to the Glasgow Advice Agency consortium of the Greater Easterhouse Money Advice Project, Money Matters Advice Centre, Govan Law Centre and the Drumchapel Law And Money Advice Centre.
Over the past few weeks, the five bureaux have been in unsuccessful discussions with the consortium to try to arrange sub-contracts to secure their future. A spokesman said: “The bureaux now have to close when their funding runs out at the end of March.”
Post by Colin Henderson on Mar 13, 2012 15:59:51 GMT
I wonder if this is another Birmingham-type situation. Here's a more detailed report with reaction from all sides:
"Five of the eight Citizens Advice Bureaux in Glasgow have begun closing down procedures which could result in the loss of around 40 jobs. Offices based in Easterhouse, Pollok, Castlemilk, Parkhead and Bridgeton are set to close on March 31.
It follows a decision by Glasgow City Council to award the contract for advice services to a consortium which did not include the bureaux. The tender was split into four lots: city-wide specialist services, north-east Glasgow, north-west Glasgow and south-Glasgow.
A consortium made up of the eight Citizens Advice Bureaux (CAB) offices in the city, along with the Castlemilk Law, Money & Advice Centre and the Legal Services Agency was awarded the city-wide and northwest lots – safeguarding the Glasgow Central, Drumchapel and Maryhill offices. The other two were awarded to Glasgow Advice Agency (GAA), a consortium made up of the Drumchapel Law and Money Advice Centre, Govan Law Centre, Greater Easterhouse Money Advice Project and Money Matters Advice Centre. Over the last few weeks the five bureaux have been in discussions with GAA to try to secure sub-contracts which would allow them to stay open.
An offer was made at the weekend which a spokesman from Glasgow City Council said would secure CAB funding for the next year. But a spokesman from Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) said that the offer was not viable forcing closing down procedures to begin.
Dominic Notarangelo, chair of CAS, wrote to councillors and MSPs on Monday telling them of the news. In his letter he said: "...It is with great sadness I write to tell you that the five Citizens Advice Bureaux of Bridgeton, Castlemilk, Easterhouse, Greater Pollok, and Parkhead have now all started closure procedures. We are in a time when public services and resources are being cut yet the need for advice services is increasing all the time. Glasgow City Council recognised this and their contract was for an increased amount of funding. Which is why I am so deeply disappointed that the five bureaux have to date not been offered a viable sub-contract that would reflect the increase in funding to the service delivery for the citizens of Glasgow."
Susan McPhee, Citizens Advice Scotland’s acting chief executive, said: "This is a really shocking situation, and we are deeply disappointed that the people of Glasgow will lose so much expert advice – just when they need it most. nThe recession has really battered the city and things have been made worse by the government’s public spending cuts and welfare reforms. As a result many Glasgow families are really struggling, demand for Citizen Advice Bureau (CAB) advice has never been higher and staff at all of these offices have never been busier. We are sure that Glaswegians will be as shocked as we are by these closures. The CAB is one of the most popular institutions in the city.
"The service is iconic and unique, and has served the city for 73 years – delivering free, independent, confidential advice to anyone who needs it. Staff at these five bureaux are devastated that they can no longer provide their vital service to the city they love, and they have asked us to thank the people of Glasgow for their support and goodwill over the years."
Last year Glasgow’s CAB service helped nearly 27,000 people and on their behalf dealt with a total of 80,000 issues.
Frank Mosson, manager of the Bridgeton CAB, said: "The new contractors who said they would subcontract to us haven't indicated any arrangements. We're alarmed at the lack of information at this late stage and have no choice but to begin our formal closing up procedures. It's been a very stressful time for the staff and volunteers at the CABs and we've done our best to maintain the important service we provide. Money worries are a massive issue for lots of people in Glasgow right now and this messy arrangement will certainly affect the service available in the city, affecting those who need it most."
Green MSP Patrick Harvie said: "I recently visited the CAB in Bridgeton and saw the great job the staff and volunteers provide in these stressful times. What an absolute shambles they have had to endure thanks to the city council. Forcing voluntary groups to compete to provide a vital, free public service was a ludicrous idea to begin with. Officials seem to be washing their hands of it, which is appalling behaviour. I have raised the matter in Parliament and will be calling on the Scottish Government to find a way to help the staff and protect their clients."
And SNP MSP Humza Yousaf urged Glasgow City Council to step in and save the five Citizen Advice Bureaux. He said: "Glasgow City Council gave an assurance that the tendering of advice services would not lead to closure of CABs – this is a broken promise which will devastate the lives of many Glaswegians across the city. I know many MSPs and local Councillors who are angry at the lack of support from Glasgow City Council for our CABs and I will work with those across the political spectrum to offer any assistance I can to ensure these vital services are protected."
A spokesman for Glasgow City Council said: "We are working with both parties to find a solution. The CABs were made a firm offer at the weekend which will secure their funding for the next year and ensure that no bureaux have to close. It is exceptionally disappointing that Citizens Advice Scotland has chosen to take this decision when it knows perfectly well there will be no need to close."
Gordon Matheson, the leader of the council, added: "The council has guaranteed continued funding for these centres and there is absolutely no need for a single one to close, and on my watch I will ensure that people living in those parts of our city will absolutely have access to those vital debt and money advice services. The Tory government is ruining people's lives and we will not stand idly by when people need help, support and advice."
Not a pretty picture on a number of fronts. As Colin says tendering does this; setting advice centres against each other. Interesting side story in why the CAB tender was split into 2 factions with some CABx throwing in their lot with non CABx. I can imagine the politics and discussions, reminiscent of the FIF Face to Face debt advice bid in London some years ago.
Post by Colin Henderson on Mar 15, 2012 19:42:59 GMT
Whatever the ugly truth, it looks like the publicity is paying off:
"Last Minute Intervention May Prevent CAB Closure
A last minute intervention by Glasgow City Council could save 5 of Glasgow’s Citizens Advice Bureaux (CABs) from closure. Reports earlier this week warned of their impending closure on 31st March this year following an unsuccessful tendering bid for the provision of financial advice across some of the city’s poorest areas. The tender to provide services in south Glasgow and the north east was awarded to Glasgow Advice Agency (GAA), a consortium of organisations that were to sub-contract work to the CABs, however, no contracts were offered, leaving the CABs’ position untenable as current funding run will run out in 3 week’s time.
GAA is a consortium involving Drumchapel Law and Money Advice Centre, Govan Law Centre, Greater Easterhouse Money Advice Project and Money Matters Advice Centre.
News of the impending closures prompted GAA to offer three year funding, which is currently being examined, however, this is less than the organisations currently receive. The Council has now stepped in to offer transitional funding of £250,000. "
Post by Colin Henderson on Mar 16, 2012 20:53:04 GMT
Confirmation today that playing the high-profile publicity card (as Birmingham did a year ago) has saved the Glasgow CABs:
Susan McPhee, acting chief executive of Citizens Advice Scotland, said: "On Monday we announced that the CAB offices in Bridgeton, Castlemilk, Pollok, Easterhouse and Parkhead were set to close on 31 March unless they could secure viable funding to continue. Late that night, Glasgow Advice Agency made an offer of a new sub-contract. The bureaux have been considering the details of this offer for the last few days.
"I am delighted to announce today that the boards of all five bureaux have agreed in principle to accept this new offer and that as a result they will be able to remain open for the next three years. This is excellent news for the people of Glasgow who will continue to have a CAB service offering free, impartial, confidential advice."
Glasgow city council leader Gordon Matheson said it was "great news" that the centres will remain open. He added: "I want to pay tribute to the CAB staff and volunteers who do incredible work and change the lives of so many people."