EXCLUSIVE: dozens of projects face closure as Glasgow delays vital funding

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Outrage as council delays applications by six months - taking dozens of charities to the brink of closure 

25th February 2020 by Robert Armour 0 Comments

Dozens of vital projects in Glasgow could go the wall after the city council said it was delaying a lifeline funding stream for another six months.

In what appears to be a broadside fired at groups who allegedly did not follow new guidelines imposed arbitrarily by Glasgow Communities Fund, Bernadette Monaghan, director of community empowerment and equalities, says this has impacted on timescales and now awards won’t be made until 1 October.

It means many small but vital projects have been left in limbo, leaving them in perilous financial straits and facing closure.

One anonymous organisation based in Pollokshields wrote on Facebook: “This is the council blaming community groups for its mistakes. It’s outrageous – the delay is to save money as the original tactic didn’t work. So we all now lose out.

“Glasgow Council is trying to save money by devious means but it has been found out.”  

Monaghan said: “I recognise that this decision may affect your project plans and we will shortly issue a briefing note in a FAQ format with further information.”

Earlier this year local charities were up in arms after dozens had their applications knocked-back over seemingly petty mistakes after the council changed the fund’s criteria without warning.   

A total of 500 groups applied for funding from the new scheme, of which 125 were rejected because one or more of the six documents required had not been attached.

Leading MSPs including Nicola Sturgeon, Humza Yousaf and Ivan McKee added their names to a letter expressing concerns about the new scheme in January.

Tina Suffredini, director of KATS pre-school nursery and after-school service in Sighthill, was seeking £141,000 from the fund, but they forgot to attach the charity’s audited accounts ahead of the closing date in October.

She was notified that her application had been rejected due to the missing document.

“I believe this has been a way to weed people out without looking to see if you meet any of the criteria for funding,” she hit out.

Another community group misspelled the project name while another, Action on Asbestos, forgot to include an attachment. Both had their applications summarily refused as a result.

Manager Phyllis Craig MBE commented: “Funding from Glasgow City Council has been the charity’s only source of public funding for over the past decade and so we were very keen to submit a new application as normal. However do a small glitch in the application process that was quickly rectified by Action on Asbestos the Council is now refusing to accept our application.

“This will place severe financial strain on the charity. We believe that this is a cynical attempt by the council to reduce the numbers submitting applications for funding. We are greatly concerned and appalled that the council are taking such an inflexible approach to this.”

In the meantime, the council says in order to minimise disruption to grant holders, groups can apply to the Integrated Grant Fund (IGF) for six months. “The aim of this extension is to provide an element of clarity and stability to organisations and continuity of service for Glasgow Citizens who who use and value the services provided by those organisations,” added Monaghan. 

At 10:15am on Wednesday, 26 February, this story was edited to include the following comment from Ian Bruce, chief executive of the Glasgow Council for the Voluntary Sector (GCVS):

“We welcome Glasgow City Council’s commitment to continue to invest £20 million per year into the voluntary sector in the city. While this is a significant amount of money it will never be enough to fund all of the amazing projects that voluntary organisations could deliver. That means that any process like this will result in some organisations gaining resource and others losing out.

"There is of course a tension between those who have been historically funded by the Integrated Grants Fund and those who are completely new applicants to the Glasgow Communities Fund. Equally there will be conflicts in views between those who completed their applications in full by the original deadline, and those who failed to do so.

"It is not for GCVS to take sides on those issues. What we will advocate strongly for is the need for Glasgow City Council to demonstrate leadership in taking forward the next steps to build confidence in their approach, ensure that decisions are fair and robust, and that the new timelines are stuck to so that organisations in the city can plan.”