A CHARITY which set out to help vulnerable people across West Cheshire to find a decent home has now ceased operations.
David Rooke, board chairman of Chester Lodgings and Support Providers (CLASP), said: “It is with great regret that the board had to make the decision following the transfer of Cheshire West and Chester Council’s contract, our biggest work area, to a new provider after a tendering competition.”
Staff from CLASP will be transferring to the new provider P3 and the company has opened offices in Chester and Ellesmere Port.
Mr Rooke said: “CLASP was initially set up in the 1990s to provide support to local landlords who were prepared to offer homes to people who might otherwise not have been able to access rented accommodation from the council, housing associations or private landlords.
“We successfully placed hundreds of clients with supportive landlords and for many years received support for this work from the previous councils of Ellesmere Port and Neston and Chester City.
“This funding was withdrawn a few years ago by Cheshire West and Chester Council, even though the need for the service continued to grow.
“While CLASP was able to continue its activity in this area of work as part of a comprehensive service, including the provision of tenancy support to vulnerable people, the award of this contract to a new provider means we can no longer cover the overheads and direct costs of providing the service.”
Asked about the impact on clients, Mr Rooke, from Great Sutton, said: “There will be many people who would have looked to CLASP for help in finding good quality affordable private housing who will no longer have anyone to turn to. Our service was unique.
“Clients who had been receiving support via the contract with the council will still get help through the new service but we have also found it necessary to cease the support to NHS clients who had mental health issues as funding for this service was only short-term and CLASP, as a charity, could not continue to support such services from its reserves.”
Mr Rooke, who has had leading roles in housing with both the former city council and Chester and District Housing Trust, said: "While we have ceased operational activities, the charity still exists and it may be possible to find other ways in which we can support our communities who are searching for and trying to maintain tenancies that are sustainable and affordable.”