Glasgow Council confirms third sector’s worst fears

Cuts

​Vital services will now be de-funded

4th September 2020 by Robert Armour 0 Comments

Glasgow City Council will go ahead with controversial cuts to its Communities Fund, rejecting pleas from 134 charities for lifeline funding.

It means third sector-organisations in the city will miss out on £77 million-worth of grants with many saying they will go to the wall as the council bids to balance its books.

One consolation is a £4m transitional fund that councillors have earmarked for advice centres and under-threat women’s groups.

The fund was a quickly scrambled response to widespread criticism these essential groups would be forced to close if funding was halted.

Earlier this week under-threat charities alongside members of the public took to the streets to protest at the cuts, culminating in a rally outside the City Chambers.

Councillors voted to slash the fund saying budget cuts had forced their hand.

However with many of the city’s charities doing more with less because of the coronavirus crisis, they looked to the Communities Fund as their saviour, only to be told its budget would be slashed.

As such, applications for the grants were oversubscribed by £57m which led council chiefs to adopt a point-scoring process to allow them to award the cash.

Council chief Susan Aitken defended the cuts saying few local authorities funded the third sector like Glasgow.

A Glasgow City Council spokesman added: "Demand for grant support has been exceptional - with applications received for well over double the total value of the fund.  

"Unfortunately, this was always going to mean disappointment for some organisations with applications that scored less highly during assessment.

"Decisions on local awards will be made by community planning sector partnerships next week."

Labour’s Martin Rhodes said there had been a “flaw in the policy”.

“The approach of this fund is one that would fit more easily with a charitable trust, dispensing funds to good causes.

“Rather than a local authority looking to work in partnership with third sector providers to deliver services across the city.

“Having one pot into which a whole range of organisations bid competitively for money will inevitably result in the lack of a strategic approach.” 

One charity rejected for funding is Famagusta in Glasgow’s southside. It works with refugees and asylum seekers, offering outreach via a series of activity-based sessions from donated premises.

Organiser Cathy Craig says it now has no source of income after its £20,000 bid was rejected. “This cash enabled us to recruit former refugees and give them part-time work. It was really important for their self-worth and confidence levels,” she said.

“With that money we took on at least 10 people, enabling them to see what work was about, giving them a wage slip and enabling to be part of society.

“This is devastating for them. We only got very little but it was enough. We’ve now no other avenue to get that cash so we need to look at our future as an organisation.”

One Parent families Scotland was another who lost out and doesn’t yet know if it will be successful in applying to the transitional fund.

Chief executive Satwat Rehman said: “We have not yet had any confirmation that we will be receiving funding from the extra £4m but will work closely with council officials to ensure that our service and the single parents we work with can contribute to the end goal of reducing child poverty and inequality in Glasgow.

“We look forward to sharing our expertise around early intervention and prevention, equalities and innovation, as well as involving the single parents of Glasgow in defining the priorities we should all be working towards.”

Anti-poverty campaigner Darren McGarvey said the council had shown its “true colours” and was presiding over a public relations disaster.

“Glasgow City Council, as if by magic, produced £4million to purchase a quick escape from the public relations disaster – a quick change of heart that did not come sudden enough,” he said.

“While £4million is a considerable sum, it barely touches the sides of Glasgow’s ever expanding social dysfunction.

“One wonders how any serious person could contemplate defunding essential advice services and law centres in the first place.”