A COUNCIL officer involved in the awarding of a £1m contract to a homeless charity is now working for it – less than a year later.

Sue Forrest was the commissioning and performance manager for services for rough sleepers at Brighton and Hove City Council when the contract was awarded to St Mungo’s last year.

St Mungo’s charity is the council’s contracted homeless outreach service.

In March, the housing and new homes committee was presented with a report asking for approval to pay the charity £944,000 to provide accommodation and a “rapid assessment service” for homeless people and those at risk of rough sleeping.

Ms Forrest was the “contact officer” on the report.

At the meeting it was decided the central Government money would be given to St Mungo’s to fund the “Safe Space to Stay service”.

The contract was not put out to tender because, the report states, it that would delay getting the service up and running quickly.

According to her Linkedin profile, Ms Forrest left her commissioning job at the council in December and joined St Mungo’s the same month.

A council spokeswoman said: “St Mungo’s is an established and well-respected provider who could fulfil the contract requirements at short notice.

“To suggest a council officer’s role in supporting the delivery of an important contract was in any way linked to their future job plans is unreasonable and unfounded.

“This insinuation does not reflect the dedicated service the officer concerned has given to the council over many years.”

At a national level, there is a restriction for ministers and very senior civil servants from working with organisations they had dealings with for a set period.

However, this does not apply to local authorities and there is no suggestion Ms Forrest has done anything wrong.

Speaking about the awarding of the contract, the spokeswoman said the funding was received from central Government after a successful bid for funds to support the council’s work tackling homelessness and rough sleeping.

She said: “The bid criteria involved being able to demonstrate the money could be put to quick and effective use.

“A proposal for a new shelter service called Safe Space To Stay was taken to the council’s housing committee in March 2019.

“The committee gave approval for the executive director to award the contract to run the service to St Mungo’s.

“It is normal for the council to provide a named contact officer on the committee report, in this case one of the team responsible for organising a range of support services for vulnerable people in the city.

“The decision making and allocation of the contract was made by senior management in consultation with legal services in January and February, 2019.

“The officer left her post in December 2019 some ten months later.”

Ms Forrest and St Mungo’s were contacted for comment.