Archive for March 21st, 2012

Last month, I published the list of Lutfur Rahman’s mayoral advisers. The list, which was provided by Tower Hamlets council, included the name Gulam Robbani and stated his role was to advise on “on adult social care and health for one day per week at a cost of £40 per hour”.

Robbani, of course, was Lutfur’s agent in the October 2010 mayoral election and is now the independent candidate for the Spitalfields by-election on April 19.

So let’s hope he and Lutfur can explain exactly what sort of advice he has been offering because I think the following letter from John Williams, the council’s head of democratic services, to Tory leader Peter Golds will cause a fair few heads to be scratched.

Thank you for your Member’s enquiry regarding G-Social Care.

Since the Mayor was elected in October 2010 G-Social Care  has been involved with the Council to provide advice to the Mayor on the Health and Wellbeing of Adults and Children.

G-Social Care was awarded a contract in accordance with the Council procurement procedures which commenced on 3rd February 2011. This contract was completed on 3rd July 2011.

From 3rd February 2011 to 3rd July 2011, G-Social Care received direct payments under this contract of £4,400.

Following a tender exercise and procurement process in accordance with the Council’s procedures, G-Social Care was awarded a further contract which commenced on 17th October 2011. From 17th October 2011 to 31st January 2012, G Social Care was paid £40 per hour and received direct payments under this contract of £13,080.00. This contract was suspended from 1st February 2012 at the request of Mr Gulam Robbani of G-Social Care. 

G-Social Care have not received any funds from the Council by way of grant.

Previously, Children’s Services spot purchased services from G Social Care during the course of the financial years 2005/6 to 2008/9. The last time that any services were commissioned from them by Children’s Services was in 2008. Over the period of time specified, a total of £62,311 was paid to them for the services provided which were for contact services for children looked after, for interpreting services across the service, for accommodation for no recourse to public funds cases and for support to CIN cases. There do not appear to have been any grants made to them. 

G Social Care is located at xx Cottage Street, London, E14 OAA and provides services to the following client groups:

Asylum Seekers – Family Assessment Units, Support services;

Children – Training and Education;

Criminal Justice – Escort Services;
Families – Community/Family Centres, Parent & Child Units;
Homelessness/Poverty – Counselling

Other Specialised Services: Interpreting & Translation

Records at Companies House show that G Social Care is owned by Robbani (99  per cent shares) and Nafisa Nagris Robbani (one per cent).

It seems therefore that Lutfur is being advised not by Robbani but by Robbani’s company. Another way of looking at this is that Robbani was paying himself through a limited company at the lower rates of Corporation Tax. There has been great deal of fuss about such tax avoidance arrangements in the civil service recently.

There is another issue here as well. Until it was awarded the Mayoral adviser contract, G Social Care Ltd was merely a supplier of translating, interpreting and counselling services. It advertised on the Community Care website here in 2006, a year after it was established at the London Muslim Centre, when its hourly rates were £18-20 an hour. That’s half the £40 it now charges for “advice”.

The letter above states that £4,400 was paid to it between February 3 and July 3, 2011: if that was at £40 an hour that’s 110 hours of “advice” over 22 weeks, which implies his contracted one day per week was for five hours (110/22).

The “further contract” commenced on October 17, 2011, and ended at Robbani’s request on January 31 (a few days after Shelina Akhtar’s guilty plea raised the probability of a Spitalfields by-election). That’s a period of only 15 weeks, yet the company was paid £13,080, triple the amount under the previous 22 week deal.

There is something odd about this. We have an official list from the council saying his contract is one day a week at £40 an hour. His working day seemed to be 5 hours a day in the first part of last year. If that remained the same under the renewed contract then we’d expect his company to have been paid £3,000 (15 weeks*5*£40).

In fact, the £13,080 he was paid for those 15 weeks works out as 327 hours (£13,080/£40). His contract was for one day a week, so if we divide 327 hours by 15 days, it implies he was working 21.8 hours a day.

Now, that can’t be right. So what else can be included in that £13,080? If there are any translating or interpreting services included in that amount then that’s a very different contract to mere “advice”…Robbani and the council have some explaining to do.

There’s something else worth pondering: we’re told the company was paid £62,000 by the council between 2006 and 2008. Well, that didn’t exactly boost the company’s health. Accounts lodged at Companies House show net assets of just £332 at Dec 31, 2007. They soared to £391 a year later.

All in all, a very curious business for Mr Robbani, who, I understand used to work for the council’s social services team…(if anyone has more information on that, please email me).


UPDATE – March 22, 1pm

There is another curious element to this tale. Robbani lists his company’s service address at Companies House at an address in Sexton House, which is a new block in Virginia Quay, Blackwater. According to the Electoral Roll he used to live there until 2008 and it’s likely he still owns it and rents it out.

However, on the previous electoral roll at that address his name is spelled as Ghulam Robbani. He is now registered at a maisonette in Cottage Street, Limehouse (the same address where his company operates from), as Gulam Robbani.

Given that this by-election was caused by someone who also used different spellings for her name at different times (Shelina Ak(h)tar), that’s a little ironic.

Interesting character this G(h)ulam Robbani…


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