More than 100 charities have lost out on crucial funding under a new scheme by Glasgow City Council, prompting claims dozens are at risk of closure due to an “unfair and unacceptable” process.
A quarter of all applications to the Glasgow Communities Fund have been rejected due to minor administrative errors, leading to MSPs including Nicola Sturgeon, Humza Yousaf and Ivan McKee adding their names to a letter expressing concerns about the new scheme.
The Herald is aware of two long-running charities facing closure due to the problems – Action on Asbestos and Kids and Adults Together in Sighthill (KATS) – but “dozens” of others are also said to be at risk.
Glasgow City Council claims they have been providing organisations with information about the new fund since 2017, including “the importance of submitting all required documentation”.
However, the letter, headed up by Maryhill and Springburn MSP Bob Doris, states: “Whilst we appreciate that the City Council has taken this decision ‘in fairness to all applicants to the Fund’ and that therefore they ‘are unable to accept any missing documents after the closing date’; we would strongly urge the City Council to reconsider.
“We believe that organisations should be given the opportunity to provide any missing information over the next few weeks. This would allow those organisations who provide the required information during that time to be considered alongside other applications.
“We agree that fairness must be at the heart of this process. However that fairness must be to the communities and individuals that each organisation serves. To exclude an organisation for an administrative oversight without giving them the opportunity to address the issue, actually penalises the often vulnerable people who rely on the service and support offered by applicant organisations. That is both unfair and unacceptable.”
Speaking to The Herald, Mr Doris said that the council’s decision was “causing a lot of pain and anxiety” and he hoped common sense would prevail.
He added that the letter had been sent to the council’s chief executive, as well as leader Susan Aitken “because there could be a political decision to be made here to address this, rather than just an administrative one”.
The Communities Fund has in part been introduced to replace the Integrated Grant Fund (IGF) which comes to an end in March.
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.
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 on December 13 that her application had been rejected due to the missing document.
“There were six things that we had to attach, and we missed one of them,” she said. “It was just an admin error. It’s not as if we don’t have these things.
“It just doesn’t seem fair that we’re not even getting a chance to go in for the funding simply because we forgot to attach one thing.
“I believe this has been a way to weed people out without looking to see if you meet any of the criteria for funding.”
Ms Suffredini added that 10 members of staff are now at risk of redundancy, and 30 children will have to be moved to alternative care providers. The building also houses a pharmacy and offers space to several community groups.
Local councillor Elaine McDougall accused the council of “ripping the heart out of the community”over a minor error.
A GCC spokesman said: “The new application process is rightly rigorous to ensure that applicant organisations are able to demonstrate good governance, as well as evidence that they can make an impact. We have advised organisations that we will revisit their request where there is evidence to show that all information and documentation was provided to us on time.”