No verdict on new connected care contract after concerns raised by Hartlepool Borough Council

KEVIN CRANNEY
KEVIN CRANNEY

COUNCIL bosses say they are yet to award the new contract for a scheme which aims to help people live more independently.

Hartlepool Borough Council awarded Who Cares North East a contract worth £680,000 over two years back in 2011 to run a town-wide handyperson, connected care and independent living service.

But the contract is currently up for tender after councillors on the former cabinet committee raised concerns about the governance arrangements in place at Who Cares (NE).

Council auditors have also raised concerns about administrative procedures at the organisation, which is currently running the scheme on a monthly basis.

Officers concluded “limited assurance” could be placed on the procedures to manage council funds provided to the community interest company, which also has bases at Burbank and West View.

A range of issues were identified including no copies of payslips kept, all staff tax codes for deducting tax were the same, under and over payment of tax letters are regularly received from HMRC and it is not known what end of year records are retained.

Who Cares (NE) is based at Manor Residents’ Association (MRA), which itself was subject to a damning audit report.

Labour councillor Kevin Cranney, chairman of Who Cares (NE), said the company had a service level agreement with MRA to provide the administration, including pay roll and said new systems had been put in place.

A council spokesman said: “Following the decision by the council’s cabinet in February 2013, tender bids were invited to provide low level support services for adults.

“The procurement process is not yet concluded but we hope to make an announcement soon on the successful tenderer.”