Addiction charity awarded £7.25m council contract goes bust

There are no changes to the service provided. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto
There are no changes to the service provided. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto
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A DRUG and alcohol charity awarded a contract worth £7.25 million to provide vital recovery services to people with addiction problems in the Capital has collapsed.

The Manchester-based Lifeline project – which was only awarded a deal by the council in April 2016 over three years with the option to extend for two years – went bust last month.

The contract covers treatment and recovery services in the south-east, south-west and north-west of the city and replaced previous work that was carried out by local organisations.

Lifeline, which served 80,000 people a year and employed 1300 UK-wide, won the tendering process to provide the contract.

The collapse came just days after the Charity Commission launched an investigation into claims that it had critically weak financial controls.

Another English-based charity giant – Change, Grow, Live (CGL) – has taken over the contract after the council carried out due diligence to ensure they met the standards required.

The council have confirmed no additional costs have been incurred in the switch and there are no changes to the services provided. Lifeline had 26 staff working to help 400 people with drug and alcohol problems across the city who are now under the guidance of CGL.

A city council spokeswoman said: “Lifeline has agreed to transfer the contract, with the consent of the council, to CLG to safeguard existing levels of service and avoid any break in provision.

“Although this is unfortunate and unforeseen, we look forward to working with CGL to ensure people with alcohol and drug problems and their families receive the help and support they need.”

Green councillor Gavin Corbett said the original decision was met with strong opposition from GPs and local charities.

He said: “When the decision was made, back in 2015, to award Lifeline the lion’s share of the drugs and alcohol contract, it was a kick in the teeth [and there was] opposition from local GPs and concerns from Edinburgh-based charities.

“They could not understand how a Manchester-based company could provide the same service as locally based organisations, especially for clients who need trust. I shared those concerns which is why I opposed the award of contract at the time. However, I am still astonished at how quickly it has unravelled.”

Edinburgh Voluntary Organisations’ Council said that Lifeline’s demise sent a “clear warning” about the risks of favouring bigger organisations with fewer connection to the communities they serve.