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Violence against women

Domestic Abuse Services Contract

There have been a number of inaccurate comments made in recent days about the council’s award of a contract for domestic abuse services, and we would like to set out the facts behind the contract award.

These include comments from Scottish Women’s Aid to the media that the council has taken “callous steps to pull the rug out from under the feet of women’s aid services” and accusations that “the council lacked both transparency and accountability” in the procurement process, as well as social media posts from Monklands Women’s Aid that the council “removed funding”.

It is simply untrue for Women’s Aid to suggest that the council has anything other than the welfare of people who require support in mind.

For the avoidance of any doubt, the council has not withdrawn any grant funding from Women’s Aid.

A tender was issued in accordance with procurement regulations for these services and Women’s Aid chose to bid for that contract on a commercial basis. Women’s Aid were not successful in their bid for the contract.

Domestic abuse services are delivered through council services and statutory partners alongside a small number of specialist independent organisations, which includes local Women’s Aid groups.

In 2019 and 2020, the council commissioned independent consultants to support a review of local provision to inform future service planning with the aim of ensuring services were effective in the context of evolving policy and the umbrella of Equally Safe and the current needs of those experiencing abuse (and their children), and to make recommendations about how these services should be designed in the future.

The review (in which there was involvement both with Scottish Women’s Aid and local Woman’s Aid groups) identified a number of gaps in services and made a number of recommendations, including the need to:

  • Ensure gender informed services which can work with women as the majority of those affected by domestic abuse
  • Provide a range of services, including preventative, early intervention, recovery and behaviour change services.
  • Ensure a consistent set of pathways and services be available across North Lanarkshire for women (with children), children and young people, women without children and men. This also includes developing pathways for those less likely to engage with mainstream services including LGBTQ, BAME, older people and people with disabilities. 
  • Embedding the Safe and Together approach will develop a more consistent approach to work with perpetrators through domestic abuse services
  • Improve data collection

This has informed a number of improvement activities within council services as well as the tendering exercise to procure a specialist domestic abuse service that ensured compliance with statutory and legal obligations which was agreed at Education and Families Committee on 19 May 2020.

The council has to comply with the law in any procurement exercise. This procurement exercise for specialist domestic abuse services was conducted in accordance with Regulation 74 of the Public Contracts (Scotland) Regulations 2015, in the style of an open procedure and concluded in January 2021, adhering to the normal procurement process and these Regulations.

SACRO was the successful bidder for the contract to provide domestic abuse support services following a tender exercise which took into account both quality and cost. The new contract will commence from 1 June 2021 for a maximum of four years with an approximate value of £1.4 million excluding VAT. The council will follow the appropriate procedure in accordance with the relevant procurement regulations and the Council’s General Contract Standing Orders to activate the contract.

While the changes in service specification reflected the need for local systems to ensure a range of  support for women as well as other people (including some groups of women) currently under represented within services, this does not translate into a single generic delivery model and monitoring will take place to ensure that this does not diminish access to support for women as those primarily impacted by domestic abuse within our communities.

The tender process was undertaken in cognisance with Equally Safe- Scotland’s strategy to eradicate violence against women and girls, recognising that while anyone can be a victim of domestic abuse, women and girls are disproportionately affected and there is a link with deep-rooted societal inequalities.

The council will continue to ensure that domestic abuse services are available to those who need them and continue to work with local Women’s Aid groups for other services such as refuge provision.

Commissioned Domestic Abuse Services Equality Impact Assessment

Page last updated:
22 Mar 2021

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