The Poppy project, a specialist service from the Eaves Housing organisation that has supported victims of sexual trafficking for the past eight years, has lost out in a retendering exercise to the Salvation Army.
Eaves claims that the new service — worth £6m over three years — will not provide the same specialist service and will also reduce the cost available to support each victim by 60%. It accuses the government of an ‘ideological decision’.
Eaves’ service was commended in a study carried out by New Philanthropy Capital in 2008 which said: “Many of the experts that NPC consulted felt it was important that trafficked women be given support from specialist, women-only organisations with a track record in working with victims of extreme sexual violence and therefore have a deep understanding of what women need.”
So, is this just a cost-saving exercise? Eaves Housing has said that the tendering exercise revealed that the government wanted ‘a bare minimum service, not a specialist service’. Or has the government decided it can do better by contracting with the biggest religious charity there is? Or could the decision be connected with the fact that Eaves’ chief exec Denise Marshall earlier this year returned her MBE in protest at government funding cuts?
Well, whatever the answer, there are lessons here for what can be expected in the way of public service contracting decisions — and the inevitable competition which will exist between huge national organisations and the smaller and more local, and specialist services as opposed cheaper, more general ones.
The full story is in the Guardian.