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Council chiefs resort to emergency powers after domestic abuse charity goes in to administration

By Ben_Falconer  |  Posted: November 20, 2012

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PENSION problems means one of the organisations helping domestic abuse victims in Gloucestershire has gone in to administration.

People Can only signed up with Gloucestershire County Council earlier this year but its move in to administration because of a hole in its pension fund has left Shire Hall chiefs relying on the other two providers to fill the gap.

"It is disappointing that People Can is no longer able to work with us though this is out of council control," said Councillor Paul McLain, cabinet member for vulnerable families.

"However, we have worked hard to ensure this setback will not affect the people who use these services.

"We've negotiated an emergency contract with the existing providers to ensure that the services can continue without any problems or disruption and that's the most important thing."

Gloucestershire County Council appointed People Can, a national voluntary organisation already working across Gloucestershire, to lead a consortium of three organisations to provide support to victims and their families affected by domestic abuse.

The consortium, named Gloucestershire Domestic Abuse Support Service (GDASS), was delivered by People Can, GreenSquare Group and Splitz and was selected by a panel, which included survivors of domestic abuse, representatives from the Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence Strategic Board, as well as district council housing, police and county council officers.

Cabinet agreed this appointment in April 2012 and the contact started on July 1.

People Can announced at the end of last week that it would be going into administration, which affects several other councils who also have contracts with the organisation.

The council says however, that because it has two other providers, it is more resilient to People Can's sudden demise.

It's awarded an emergency contract to GreenSquare Group, which will act as lead provider with Splitz.

This contract will be re-tendered in the long term.

Ian Oakley-Smith, David Hurst and Karen Dukes of PwC were appointed joint administrators of People Can, previously known as the Novas Scarman Group on Monday,

November 19.

The charity has over 250 staff, volunteers and partners supporting communities and individuals.

In a statement, PwC said the charity's pension obligations were the primary reason for administration.

David Hurst, joint administrator and director at PwC said: "Our immediate priority is to safeguard the excellent services that People Can provides across the UK.

"The local authorities that outsource contracts to the charity were informed of the precarious position early last week and were asked to seek successor providers as a matter of urgency.

"We are continuing to work with them very closely to ensure a smooth transition of these services wherever possible.

"The charity's significant pension liabilities dated back many years to its previous role as a Registered Social Landlord. A range of restructuring options were explored, however a deal could not be reached that worked for all stakeholders."

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