The Salvation Army was sent a one month extension of its contract with the City of York Council the day it expired but it was so late that it “didn’t have time” to sign it.
The City of York Council decided not to extend the Salvation Army’s £95,000-a-year contract to deliver rough sleeping services in York when it expired on 30 September.
Instead, the council will bring the services in-house to achieve its goal of eradicating rough sleeping by the next set of council elections in 2027.
Both the Salvation Army and the City of York Council acknowledge that the nonrenewal of the contract was badly managed, as one service manager learned of the decision via the press.
Charles Malarkey, of the Salvation Army, has also claimed that a one-month extension contract was sent to give staff more notice of the decision but was sent so late there was not sufficient time to sign it.
Speaking to the council’s health, housing and adult social care scrutiny committee on November 13, Mr Malarkey said: “[The contract] was meant to end in September, but because they said we hadn’t had enough time to talk to our staff, they extended it to the end of October.
“But they sent out the contract for us to sign on the last day of September at two minutes to five, so we didn’t have time to do it, and because we didn’t sign it, it ended at the end of September.”
This was not addressed directly in the meeting, other than the committee’s chair Cllr Danny Myers labelling it as “horrendous.”
However, a council spokesperson has since said: “The council, recognising the poor communications in respect of the expiry of the contract from both parties’ perspectives, endeavoured as a goodwill gesture to facilitate a one-month extension to the contract.
“This was before the contract expired so was not too late but did need a prompt response, however, the Salvation Army did not feel able to enter into the extension before the contract expired, therefore the option to extend expired.”
Cllr Darryl Smalley, a member of the health, housing and adult social care scrutiny committee, said: “It’s beggar’s belief that City of York Council’s sheer administrative incompetence has meant that the Salvation Army’s contract to support the homeless ended a month earlier than it needed to.
“To be clear, this is a service that should never have been under threat in the first place.
“The city’s Labour MP has called on the Labour council bosses to rethink, as have all opposition parties.
“It’s blindingly obvious to everyone in York that Labour’s cancelling of the Salvation Army support is the wrong decision, taken at the worst possible time as winter sets in.
“Cllr Myers got it spot on when calling this whole fiasco horrendous on Monday.
“The glum faces of other Labour councillors on the committee made it clear he wasn’t alone in thinking that.
“York council’s Labour group are tearing themselves apart over these cruel cuts to services supporting the city’s most vulnerable.
“A U-turn is well overdue.”