Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Ministry of Justice work could be worth billions of pounds to landlords

Stonham to bid for probation contracts

A housing association will bid for multi-billion pound probation service contracts when a government outsourcing scheme launches in August.

In the latest example of associations expanding into new sectors, Home Group’s care and support arm, Stonham, will bid alongside giant security firms and public sector contractors to take full control of the management of medium to low-risk offenders in several regions. They are yet to specify which regions, or how many they will bid for.

The Ministry of Justice is in the process of transferring work with offenders who have spent less than 12 months in custody to the private sector.

The department is splitting England and Wales into 21 regions, each of which will be managed by a single ‘prime’ operator, which will have overall responsibility for the region, and will bring in sub-contractors to help deliver the service.

Stonham is planning a bid for at least one of the contracts to become a prime regional provider.

Rachael Byrne, executive director for care and support at Home Group, said: ‘Stonham has always worked with offenders, so it’s a natural progression for us. We already have bail contracts, and this is really just a way of extending that work.

‘It is a challenging step, and a new step, but not a step to be fearful of. It is about providing housing and support to vulnerable people, which is a core part of our mission statement.’

She added that Stonham has operations in all 21 regions, and would consider bidding for any of them.

The association will complete and return a pre-tender questionnaire by August, and will find out whether it has won its bid in spring next year.

The MoJ values the contracts at between £5 billion and £20 billion over a 10-year-period.

Stephen Hughes, a partner at Bevan Brittan, which advises on the outsourcing of major public sector contracts, said: ‘The programme is looking for support in three principal areas: housing, unemployment and drug and alcohol abuse.

‘The engagement of registered providers is an essential ingredient in what will be a complex programme. This definitely marks a new direction of travel for the industry.’

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