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London Black Women's Project to continue running domestic violence service as council restarts new contract tender process

PUBLISHED: 07:00 08 November 2019

A vote to discontinue the current procurement process was passed unanimously by the cabinet at Newham Town Hall.

A vote to discontinue the current procurement process was passed unanimously by the cabinet at Newham Town Hall.

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London Black Women's Project (LBWP) will run the borough's refuges for domestic and sexual violence victims for another 12 months after a council cabinet vote.

The cabinet decided on Tuesday night, November 5, to re-run the tender process for the accommodation-based service and extend the current contract, which was expiring this month.

A vote to discontinue the current procurement process was passed unanimously and, as a result, the LBWP contract will now run to November 2020.

Plaistow-based LBWP will maintain the current level of service, providing 25 places across three sites in the borough.

The refuges in Newham are for women from outside the borough, as part of a national network of local authorities who offer refuge provision on a reciprocal basis.

Women fleeing domestic or sexual violence are not housed in their own boroughs for safety reasons.

The council is restarting the procurement process for the service as it wants its community wealth building (CWB) strategy, which was agreed in September, to be considered in all decision making.

A council spokeswoman said: "The current procurement process is compliant with legal requirements but due to the development of the mayor's new policy CWB framework, it could not have taken this impact fully into account.

"The proposed service offer will remain for 25 places in refuge provision, providing a safe haven for women and children who are fleeing domestic or sexual violence.

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"What the new process will allow is full consideration of the council's new policy framework, including the applications of community wealth building principles."

The council will encourage existing bidders and any other interested providers to engage in the new procurement process, which will start in March 2020.

A new contract will be awarded in June to begin in December.

LBWP tweeted on Tuesday, November 5: "We welcome the decision by the Cabinet to extend the current contract for refuges for BME women to LBWP.

"We look forward to working with the mayor to deliver the Community Wealth Building strategy ensuring BME women's provision is protected."

Women's organisations last week penned an open letter calling on the council to continue funding LBWP's specialist support services, designed and run "by and for women from the communities they wish to serve."

The letter argued that "tendering and procurement processes can adversely impact small voluntary and community sector organisations" and often "leave smaller specialists set up to fail against large generic providers."

Earlier this year, campaigners staged a protest outside the council over fears LBWP, which has run refuges across east London for 32 years, would be decommissioned.

The service costs £197,928 a year, which is fully funded by the council.

Providing a domestic and sexual violence service isn't supported by government funding and isn't mandatory for local authorities.

LBWP were contacted for comment.

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