Supporters of Tooting-based care charity Mushkil Aasaan have accused Wandsworth Council of being heartless and cold and trying to erase its 25-year history.

Mushkill Aasaan – which translates as ‘making the difficult easier’ in Hindi – has provided home care to many in Tooting’s diverse community for the last 25 years and prides itself on caring for people in a way that is sensitive to their ethnic and cultural needs.

But Wandsworth Council has refused to offer it a new contract from June 2019.

The council has said Mushkil Aasaan submitted an incomplete application during the tender process, and to give them special treatment ahead of other applicants would have been illegal and “grossly unfair”.

At a December 5 full council meeting, the administration voted down a Labour motion to adjourn and discuss the matter in greater depth.

Mushkil Aasaan founder Naseem Aboobaker was at the meeting, along with dozens of staff, people the group looks after, and their families.

SEE MORE: Mushkil Aasaan: Charity may not have its contract renewed

Afterwards, she said the attitude from some councillors was “heartless and cold”, adding: “They weren’t willing to listen to anything.”

She said: “I didn’t expect or want it to be a debate between Labour and Conservatives. We aren’t about party politics.

“But they have chosen to wipe out our 25-year history, and are refusing to listen to the community – all for two or three very minor clerical errors.

“They are completely erasing us and our history. If there was a problem with our service, then it wouldn’t hurt so much. Our service has been exemplary. We are all extremely disappointed by this.”

Mushkil Aasaan was set up in 1993 in Ms Aboobaker’s front room, and was run from there for the first 12 years.

She said the organisation is important because it understands the needs of many of the communities in and around Tooting.

“We have always been a specialised service,” she said.

“That means we have the language, the cultural references, the understanding of how to deal with the different communities.”

Councillor Maurice McLeod, who proposed adjourning the meeting, made a speech in support of such “culturally specific care”.

He spoke about his mother, who came to Britain from Jamaica in 1964 as part of the Windrush generation, and how she tries to keep a “firm grip” on her cultural identity.

He said: “When you’re part of a minority community, and are constantly having your right to exist in your own home challenged, your culture and customs can be a shield that helps you remember that you weren’t always an alien.”

At the meeting, Wandsworth’s cabinet member for adult social care and health, Councillor Paul Ellis, paid tribute to the work the carers at Mushkil Aasaan do.

He said:

"We have just completed a procurement exercise to commission homecare services over the next ten years in a contract worth more than £100million. One of the bidders was Tooting-based Mushkil Aasaan, whose tender had to be disqualified because it was incomplete and non-compliant, and under the very strict EU legislation governing these types of large scale public sector contracts, it could not legally go forward.

"After being notified of this, Mushkil Aasaan sought special treatment so they could submit a revised bid. Not only would this have been illegal, it would have been grossly unfair to the other contract bidders and would have breached the procurement rules designed to ensure a transparent and level playing field for all those taking part.

"We have always said we are happy to work with Mushkil Aasaan and that we value the work they do. Although their bid had to be disqualified, we are quite sure they will continue to thrive and continue to win contracts and support vulnerable people not just in Wandsworth but also in the other boroughs where they operate. They will also be able to continue to offer their services to their existing clients, and new ones too, via the Direct Payments system which gives people the choice of who provides their home care and the budgets to pay for it.”

Anyone currently looked after by Mushkil Aasaan will be able to request to become part of the “direct payment system”, where the council gives money towards care with a provider that person chooses – depending on their financial situation.