Glasgow City Council has responded after the Church of Scotland urged them to reconsider what they deemed "reckless" proposals for alleged funding cuts to local citizens advice centres.
In a letter to the council, the Presbytery of Glasgow said it was “incomprehensible” to reduce funding during a health crisis which has resulted in mass job losses and wide scale financial hardship.
However, speaking to Premier, Glasgow City Council argued that it wasn't engaging in a funding cut, as such, but rather a merit-based reallocation of funds.
"Firstly, I don’t think it is accurate to describe the situation as a funding cut," a communications officer clarified to Premier. "The amounts being awarded are comparable to under previous funds. They might be shared, in some cases, among more organisations than under the previous fund – but the council has now allocated more than £60m to the third sector since March.
"Equally, I don’t think it is particularly true to say individual organisations have had funding cut. Neither this nor the previous scheme were ever put together to provide continuing, core funding – they are discretionary grants schemes. You apply and you are either successful or unsuccessful, based on the strength of your application.
"Applications far exceeded the funding available so, yes, it is unfortunately inevitable that a substantial number of projects have missed out. As you would expect, it is the applications that scored most highly that were recommended for awards."
A spokesperson for the council further expanded on the local authorities plans, lamenting the fact that the reallocation of funds was "always going to mean disappointment for some organisations".
"Demand for grant support has been exceptional – with applications received for well over double the total value of the fund," they explained. "Unfortunately, this was always going to mean disappointment for some organisations with applications that scored less highly during assessment.
“Members have also agreed to make available £4 million in additional funding to support key third sector organisations in specific sectors to continue to deliver services while they develop sustainable financial models for the future.”
A Change.org petition to save the city's advice centres has garnered more than 11,000 signatures at the time of writing. "Citizen’s Advice Bureaux and the services they provide are a vital, lifeline service to our communities," the petition reads.
"If they disappear it will leave many of our most vulnerable in the city’s deprived areas without access to vital independent, impartial advice on matters such as debt management and welfare benefits, housing, domestic abuse, immigration and asylum, employment issues & tribunals, consumer complaints, and landlord-tenant disputes to name a few."