Glasgow’s third sector faces avalanche of cuts

Glasgow

Voluntary groups face start of what could be a raft of cuts coming their way

1st September 2020 by Robert Armour 0 Comments

Glasgow’s third sector is braced for a storm of cuts this Thursday as council leaders look to pare back funding in a bid to balance the council's books.  

On top of eight Citizen Advice bureaux facing cuts, at least two city law centres’ future is in doubt as well vital services run by support charities.

Councillors are due to meet on Thursday (3 September) to confirm the budget cuts. 

One Parent Families Scotland (OPFS) said its flagship local service faces a 100% cut in core funding from Glasgow City Council.

Distressed parents who rely on support from the service to keep their head above water have been in touch with OPFS asking if the services will be cut. Now, the organisation is urging parents and supporters to contact local councillors to ask them to push for the cuts to be rejected.

And Buddies, which has been working in Glasgow since 1994 and supports 180 families, said its future is now in "jeopardy".

The charity normally receives an annual grant from Glasgow City Council but this year it, like many others, has been turned down for funding.

Altogether the cuts will hammer the sector, cutting capacity across Scotland’s biggest local authority and curtailing the vital work of voluntary groups.

Many of the cuts come from the council's Communities Fund, however, the council has stated no funding, from any source, is guaranteed.  

A council spokesman said: "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 citywide grants will be made at committee later this week – followed by a further round of local awards."

Meanwhile a demonstration will be held in support of Citizens Advice Bureaux (CABx) threatened with closure tomorrow. 

Five are facing closure with another three shouldering significant cuts to their budget from the council’s Communities Fund.

The protest will be held at 1pm, the day before councillors will vote on grant application recommendations. 

Organiser Mike Dailly of the Govan Law Centre said: "Make no mistake we are sailing into a brutal economic and social storm."

Peter Kelly of the Poverty Alliance tweeted: “Community and third sector orgs have been at the frontline in supporting people through the pandemic's economic storm. That so many of those organisations in Glasgow are to have their funding cut - some to a critical degree - is simply not right. @GlasgowCC must reconsider."

Glasgow Labour councillors have pledged to vote against the cuts. 

Newly-elected Glasgow Labour leader Malcolm Cunning said: “The pandemic has affected all aspects of our lives. The right thing to do would have been to halt these changes and take time to reassess. The SNP have refused to do that - despite repeated and vocal warnings from our councillors and from the third sector itself. This is just like the SQA exam fiasco - the SNP have chosen to ignore the voices of everyone other than the SNP.

“Demand on the third sector is widely expected to soar as we try to recover from this crisis, and yet the SNP seem intent on cutting millions from vital projects and putting jobs at risk. If we are serious about ‘building back better’, we must be bolder than this. I am calling on all parties on the council to engage constructively with us to find a solution to this awaiting disaster.” 

Glasgow Green politicians stopped short of vowing to oppose the cuts and said they would review the options available when the applications are voted on.

In a joint statement, the co-convenors of the city's Green councillor group, Kim Long and Jon Molyneux, said: "Greens do not want to see any CABx close at a time of greatest need. We're also deeply concerned by the refusal of funding for Rape Crisis and Women’s Aid. Just like we’re leading calls to reopen local libraries, we want to retain these lifeline services when they are hugely in demand.

"But we can't just reject the recommendations either. That way, no one gets any money - we'd deny funding to all those who have been recommended for funding, including groups who were locked out under Labour.  

"It’s never been right to risk services which we all agree are essential by forcing them into a competitive grant process - Greens and other opposition parties had warned about this and were ignored. And despite all the delays, we‘ve still ended up with an 11th-hour crisis - this needs an urgent solution from the SNP before Thursday.

"We don’t yet know what the options will be when we get to Thursday’s meeting. We’ll talk to others before then to try to find something we can agree on. Our commitment is to be fair to those who have been recommended for funding and to do the best we can by our communities in this time of need."