A not-for-profit company which provided rented homes for Wiganers struggling to find somewhere to live has gone bust.
Wigan Housing Solutions, based in Pemberton, has called in the administrators following what appears to be months of financial uncertainty.
The community interest company (CIC) was set up to help reduce homelessness and provide accommodation for those who would be turned away elsewhere in the property system and won a contract from Wigan Council to run a bond scheme and private sector leasing arrangement.
However, all that has now come to an end with the town hall having to bring the services in-house until alternative models can be found.
The dramatic end to the CIC raises the spectre of job losses, with the situation currently unclear for the staff at its Ormskirk Road base.
Those involved with the operation have been advised on their position and the council said it had done what it could to save the firm.
However, both Wigan Housing Solutions and the town hall faced stinging criticism from one opposition councillor who said bringing the work back in-house raised questions over why it was ever tendered out at all.
Wigan Housing Solutions’ official statement read: “The company has continued exploring its available options to seek solutions to enable the company to maintain the provision of services and future support to landlords and tenants.
“Unfortunately, after consideration of the viability of the company’s ability to provide continuing services and after seeking independent professional advice, it is with regret that the directors confirm that the company is ceasing to trade, and as a result, no further letting or management services are able to be provided.
“All landlords and tenants have been contacted directly by the company and have been provided with advice and information to assist them going forwards.
“The company and its staff have remained committed to giving the best possible service throughout the working relationship with tenants and landlords, and all of the staff wish them the very best in the future.”
Vicky Bannister, assistant director for housing at Wigan Council said: “We have been working intensely with Wigan Housing Solutions over recent months to help secure a future for them moving forwards, however, Wigan Housing Solutions ultimately decided to go into administration.
“We are working with the administrator to help manage the situation and ensure the transition of landlords into alternative options is as smooth as possible. We will also continue to support the affected landlords and tenants as appropriate until this happens.”
The council said all tenants and landlords have been told what steps they need to take.
The liquidation is being overseen by Manchester-based company Leonard Curtis Business Solutions Group.
Meanwhile, Hindley Green Independent Coun Bob Brierley wants the council’s partnership with the failed CIC to now be scrutinised.
Coun Brierley said: “All they are is a glorified letting agency which the council has said can sort people out. How can they possibly have gone into liquidation?
“Why are we even dealing with these outside organisations? They are housing people but didn’t Wigan and Leigh Housing do that? Doesn’t the council’s housing department do that?
“We’ve got our housing stock and we should be looking at all these contracts because in my opinion they are wasting money. All we have to do is employ the right people who can get the job done properly.”