Richmond Council for Voluntary Services (RCVS) and Richmond Adult Community College (RACC) have been given a three year contract to deliver voluntary sector support services.

The process has been somewhat marred, however, after the council considered giving the contract to an organisation linked to A4e.

A4e was embroiled in scandal last month when figures suggested it received £46m from the taxpayer last year, for its work on the Government’s flagship Work Programme - despite finding long-term jobs for less than 4 per cent of its unemployed clients.

Leader of the opposition Councillor Stephen Knight said the contract should always have been awarded to RCVS, but instead the council wasted time and money looking at the Foundation for Social Improvement, which is linked to A4e.

Coun Knight said:  “A huge amount of time and energy has gone into a bureaucratic process anyone who had looked at the situation with an open mind would have realised that it was the only sensible option to awarded the funding to RCVS.

“Huge sums of money have been spent on this, both by the voluntary sector and by the council. We welcome the outcome, but not the process in getting there.”

David Sidonio, chief executive at RCVS, said: “We’re delighted that Richmond CVS and RACC have been awarded this contract. We have a long and well established track record of providing training and support services to the local voluntary and community sector.

“Our successful bid allows us to develop tailor-made services using the skills from a range of professionals, enhanced by delivering them at RACC’s outstanding college.”

RACC’s acting principal Gabe Flint said: “RACC is delighted to receive this support for its work in training small and new businesses that have a social purpose. It is these organisations who contribute so much to Richmond’s community services and its innovative response to the recession.”

Councillor Pamela Fleming, cabinet member for community, business and culture, said: “I am delighted that RCVS and RACC have been successful in winning the contract to deliver the support services for local voluntary sector organisations in the borough, both have great local links and are well placed to work together to provide a high level of support.

“As we are becoming a commissioning council, our new tendering process is much more robust so that we ensure organisations are accountable to residents and local business, providing both excellent services and value for money.

"We were unable to award this contract previously, however these two organisations have risen to the challenge and shown great drive and business acumen by joining together to tender for the contract. With their expertise combined I am sure this partnership will be a great success.”