Glasgow Equality Forum letter regarding the Glasgow Communities Fund funding recommendations to be heard at the City Administration Committee, 3rd September

Dear Committee Member,
City Administration Committee: Glasgow Communities Fund
Glasgow Equality Forum (GEF) members have asked me to write to you in connection with the funding recommendations for the Glasgow Communities Fund, to be heard at the City Administration Committee tomorrow.
The Leader of Glasgow City Council has today announced a £4m transition fund for “the advice sector, violence against women organisations & communities of interest & equalities groups”.  Whilst of course this is to be welcomed, and will be of significant benefit to people with protected characteristics living in Glasgow requiring legal advice and representation, the detail and recipients of this transition fund are as yet unknown. GEF members have expressed concern that simply addressing concerns from organisations that have lost funding does nothing to combat the inequalities the new fund sought to address.
Given that the CAC meets tomorrow, I felt it was important to set out our member’s concerns based on current Committee papers, so all Committee members are fully aware of the impacts.
To my knowledge, it appears that none of our members have been involved in talks around the transition fund, so whilst equalities groups are specifically mentioned, we have no idea which equality groups will be funded. Without knowing this, the picture is very much incomplete for people with protected characteristics.
GEF members’ funding position
GEF members have asked me to highlight the following matters to you, which have serious implications for people with protected characteristics in Glasgow:
  • GEF have supported the work of Glasgow LGBT+ Voluntary Sector Network for the past four years. Four members of the Network applied for GCF funding and only one was successful, albeit with a 50% reduction. Whilst I cannot comment upon their respective applications, this appears to fly in the face of the Network’s 2017 report recommendations, which were accepted in full by the Leader of the Council, particularly “We ask GCC to consider that at present, lifeline services for particularly vulnerable sections of the LGBTI+ community rely in large part on precarious funding which regularly changes and is subject to fluctuations. There is an urgent need to solidify the financial foundation of these services.” Network members have reflected that Glasgow City Council’s expressed commitment to developing an LGBT Hub for the City feels somewhat hollow with almost no services to put in it. (The report is available here: http://77.104.153.122/~equalityupdates/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/FINAL-GEF-LGBTI-web-2018.pdf).

 

  • A number of members of Glasgow Standing Group on Violence Against Women have had their applications refused.  I understand this particularly impacts upon work with young people and preventative work. In the week where the Scottish Government launched a Bill to incorporate the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, this funding cut appears to be a regressive blow to children’s rights, particularly to the rights of young women.

 

  • A number of our members, such as Amina MWRC and Faith in Community Scotland, have had their applications refused. From an initial review of the appendices, it appears that a number of equalities projects have been unsuccessful. Given the changes to the demographics of Glasgow since the IGF was “closed”, do the funding recommendations reflect demographic changes to Glasgow’s communities? For example, the evidence of already rising levels of poverty in our communities and the unprecedented additional support local people have been delivering, and will require to deliver, in the longer term to address the social and financial impacts of Covid-19.

 

  • In their own correspondence to you, Glasgow Disability Alliance has highlighted the unique role Disabled People’s Organisations (DPOs) play in plugging gaps in all other provision. GDA’s vast member engagement during the pandemic showed that 80% of disabled people were not aware of support services they could access in their local areas during lockdown. GDA have highlighted their concerns about reductions in funding or zero awards to the following organisations: Flourish House, Headway Glasgow, GCIL, Glasgow Access Panel, Deaf Scotland (Scottish Council on Deafness),  CKUK, Equal Say, One Parent Family Scotland, Scottish Ethnic Minority Deaf Club, Mel-Milaap day centre, Multicultural Elderly Care Centre, REACH community health BME dementia project and Hwupenyu Health and Wellbeing.

 

  • The Equality Impact Assessment (Appendix 3) appears not to have been updated since the application stage. GEF were involved in submitting information to the EQIA when it was first drafted. Unfortunately, there is no assessment of what the impacts will be on protected characteristic groups as a result of these funding decisions.  There is no assessment about the impact of refusing applications that benefit African and/or other newer communities, faith, LGBT and other BME communities. An updated EQIA would have identified the impact of losing Violence Against Women projects. Given the number of disabled people and those living with long term health conditions, has the funding adequately met those complex needs?

 

  • There is a major impact on people who use services that will no longer be funded. One month is not an adequate period of time to wind up operations, refer people to other services and manage the expectations and worries of particularly vulnerable people.
GEF’s own funding position

GEF’s bid for funding was incorporated within the Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights’ application in order to meet the new fund criteria.  When the Committee Papers were published last week, we were concerned to note that CRER’s funding had been reduced by over 50%. Accordingly this represented a cut in funding to GEF, and we were concerned that if the recommendations passed at Committee, GEF would be forced to significantly reduce our work, which supports community planning partners and equality networks across the City.  The 0.6 FTE post of GEF Manager would also be at risk of a reduction in hours and capacity.

 

I am pleased to report that I understand funding has been found to secure GEF Manager’s post until March 2021 outwith Glasgow Communities Fund and I look forward to further conversations with council officers to work out what this will look like in practice. I very much hope GEF can secure funding for 2.5 years, matching the time commitment of GCF.
A vital part of GEF’s work is the Equalities Updates email bulletins, administered by Kate Henderson at GCVS. It would be a devastating blow if this work was to end and we hope her position will be protected.
Recommendations
1. Call for immediate update on what will be funded by £4 million transition fund. Where monies have not been allocated, a statement giving some clarity on which groups are intended to be beneficiaries and give some idea about the future process;
2. Conduct a full EQIA on the proposed funding decisions, with participation from equalities groups affected.  Reconsider the recommendation to cut or withhold funding from Glasgow’s Disabled People led organisations at a time when disabled people face supercharged inequalities during the pandemic and recession;
3. For a reinvestment in time and energy in driving the Third Sector Concordat Action Plan forward, with real involvement, participation and power sharing with third sector. We consider this would reduce the likelihood of such challenging processes happening in the future;
4. Some GEF members have called for an inquiry into why the whole process has felt extremely challenging for all concerned. Whether an inquiry would be fruitful, or another mechanism could be used, it would be beneficial for everyone to look at the lessons that can be learned in a transparent and positive way.
Many thanks for your kind assistance in considering this letter. Please contact me via email if I can provide you with any more information or detail.
Yours sincerely,
Lorraine Barrie
Manager
GEF