Shock as Brighton domestic violence charity loses £5m contract

Councillors shared their shock and concern when asked why domestic violence charity RISE had lost its contract to provide support for victims in Brighton and Hove.

The charity was recently told that it had not won contracts worth £5 million over seven years as part of the £13 million tender.

The new contracts start from April and RISE currently provides the services for about £1.4 million a year.

A Brighton and Hove City Council meeting was told that East Sussex County Council had led the procurement process for the Portal service for victims which RISE had helped develop.

It provided refuges and direct support for victims of domestic abuse and violence – and it co-ordinated its work with hospitals and Sussex Police.

Questions were asked about the situation as Labour councillor Daniel Yates brokered a cross-party deal to provide a degree of financial help to support “transformation” for community and voluntary sector organisations like RISE.

Anusree Biswas Sasidharan, an invited member of Brighton and Hove City Council’s Policy and Resources Committee, raised the matter.

Dr Biswas Sasidharan said that she was horrified that the “decommissioning” had taken place during the pandemic when public services were focused on the covid-19 crisis.

She told the virtual meeting yesterday (Thursday 11 February): “Making such a challenging decision, which feels like a fracturing and destabilising of domestic abuse services … this is a really deep concern.

“Why an organisation such as RISE that is led by women for women should be cast aside without due regard to their great social value has left me flabbergasted.”

She praised the three political groups for agreeing to create a Community and Voluntary Sector Transformation Fund to support organisations away from paid commissioned work from councils and towards other funding opportunities.

The money will be taken from senior management staffing budgets, which look like being reduced by £95,000.

Councillors also shared their concerns and asked whether the process had been in line with the council’s “social value” policies.

Council leader Phélim Mac Cafferty said that he was trying to organise a meeting with RISE to discuss the decision, adding that he shared the charity’s disappointment.

But, he said, councillors could not overturn an independent procurement decision.

Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty

Fellow Green councillor Tom Druitt said that he had spoken to the council’s head of procurement to understand how the situation had happened.

He said that the council needed to ensure future procurement followed Brighton and Hove’s social value and community wealth building principles.

Councillor Druitt said: “It’s much better for Brighton and Hove City Council to run our own procurement and that is something we have committed to do.

“This situation won’t be able to happen again because we will run our own procurement with our own values and our own emphasis that we place on social value and the third sector and its role in the community.”

Labour councillor Daniel Yates said that he was reassured by what Councillor Druitt had said as he raised the RISE issue with him a few weeks ago.

Councillor Daniel Yates

Councillor Yates said that it was pointless to have guidance on procurement if it was ignored when the council worked with other organisations.

He said: “The social value requirements are what we expect to see. I hope to see in future we don’t get such perverse decisions coming out from our procurements.”

The council’s executive director for housing, neighbourhoods and communities Rachel Sharpe said that the process had followed all the legal requirements.

She said: “We have to look objectively at contract bids when they come in. We have to judge them on their merits against the agreed specification.

“We absolutely understand the difficulties and disappointments for RISE. The organisation does continue to provide various services in the city and is also commissioned for services by the CCG (clinical commissioning group) locally.”

Ms Sharpe said that RISE was working with the council to ensure staff and clients’ interests were supported during the handover process.

RISE has written to its supporters saying that it is a short-term setback but the charity will build new services for women and families affected by domestic violence in Brighton and Hove.

The contract runs until 2025 and is funded by the two councils – East Sussex and Brighton and Hove – and the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner.

  1. Greens Out Reply

    surely there is something missing from this report?

    If RISE has ‘lost’ the contract then surely this means there is another organisation that has ‘won’ the contract?

    Which would clearly mean that this, vital, service will not suddenly stop
    and that it would be run by the successful contract bid. This would also mean that there is no need to pump yet more BHCC money into it than they already do?

    As for Cllr. Druitt stating “It’s much better for Brighton and Hove City Council to run our own procurement…” No Tom, BHCC couldn’t run a bath. Let alone a city. Greens and Labour, and their illegal coalition, have proved this time and time before.

    • Alan Reply

      A stupid, cowardly post of no merit. There is no ‘illegal coalition’ running the city. It is neither a coalition, nor is it illegal. Straight out of the Trump playbook. Pathetic.

      Meanwhile, back in the real world, RISE is noted as a leader for its services to women. What you have clearly failed to understand is… anything. You have no idea how finances work, nor what funds go where. Until you do, your right to comment is severely limited.

      The Green Party has, for the most part, made an excellent job of running the city for the benefit of everyone. You can’t provide evidence otherwise, as it doesn’t exist.

      • Daniel Harris Reply

        I fully agree Alan and with recent statistics showing domestic violence in the UK has massively increased, their are indeed worthy questions around the process. Seems to me some of these procurement systems have questionable merit. We know procurement fraud exists.

        A fairer model as described sounds great in principle, but we have issues with the council officers are failing to disclose a lot of information also.

        I note Rise had a fair few LGBT+ Clients and specialised support workers, will their work be picked up by the pride social fund maybe or a coalition of bids, surely the equality s act comes into play here.

        It would be good to have more information but the other lockdown is BHCC. Its a bit issue!

  2. Valerie Reply

    The influence on the children of mismatched warring parents is lifelong. It has been for me. This news from Rise is a shock.

    • Free Man Reply

      If rise is run by women for women then it doesn’t cover all domestic abuse – maybe this is why it has lost the contract.

      Why are the green and labour councilors so very chummy with this ‘charity’ (snork) are all of it’s staff volunteers? Or are the bosses well paid chums of the woke loons on the council?

      So who did get the contract? You’d have thought any journalist worth their salt would have found this out and reported it

    • Jacqueline Madders Reply

      Ditto Valerie

  3. Phillip Reply

    How is RISE a charity if it is being paid for providing a service? It is clearly a corporation with good tax breaks. Additionally, which ever organisation takes over its success should be measured by seeing a year on year fall in domestic violence occurances and hence the money spent on it should depreciate NOT increase.

  4. Patricia Fisher Reply

    There is a lot being left unsaid in this newspaper. All I can say is that I have had dealings with RISE in the past and all the people singing its praises don’t know it from the grass roots level.

    I had the dubious honour of working with them some years ago, all I can say, it is a money grubbing organisation that puts getting its “rent and services charges in” before the women’s needs.

    I knew of women who returned to their abusive partners rather than to have to continue another day working with RISE so not every woman’s experience was one of amazing freedom from abuse. It sometimes out of the frying pan into the fire.

    Of course when they dared to complain, and they did, their concerns, complaints were swept under the carpet. They have bled out staff on an ongoing basis, (based on when I last had any interaction with them) and their staff didn’t feel at that time confident enough to put in complaints about their concerns.

    Also remember members of staff might be dedicated workers but they have to pay bills and look after their family too.

    Sadly Women’s Refuge wasn’t much better either (had dealings with them too) and if they have got the contract, its out of the frying pan and into the fire.

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