CITY chiefs have issued an urgent plea to the Scottish Government to hand over more money after dozens of community groups doing vital work across the Capital lost funding totalling £1.9m a year.
Members of the Edinburgh Integration Joint Board (IJB), made up of council and NHS representatives, agreed to give out £14m over a three-year period starting in April, despite receiving £31m of applications from community groups.
A total of 35 organisations who currently receive grants were not recommended for renewal.
An innovation fund of £100,000 will be put aside as a buffer, in case service users are adversely affected by the cuts.
At a heated meeting yesterday, the depute council leader hit out at a lack of funding from the Scottish Government for requiring the IJB to cut the funding for groups. Amid protests from noisy campaigners outside City Chambers, groups highlighted the impact on losing the funding – with some groups set to be closed down.
Malcolm Chisholm from Pilton Community Health Project (PCHP), which has been working with some of the country’s most deprived communities for 35 years, told the board that the group is “more needed than ever”.
He added: “If you don’t overturn the recommendation, this project will have to close in March.
“This project is absolutely essential. It’s not just local people that will be appalled – this would cause ripples way beyond the Pilton area.”
Depute council leader, Cllr Cammy Day, who spoke in support of organisations at the meeting, called on the Scottish Government to think again about how much funding it will make available in its local government settlement, which will be finalised on Monday.
He said: “In one of the most prosperous cities in the country, with all the public bodies, there must be an opportunity to find funding for vital frontline services.
“PCHP does so much for victims of violence and abuse but in three months that’s not going to exist. I will be working tirelessly behind the scenes to try and find money for PCHP.
“If that service isn’t there, the pressures will just end up somewhere else – having a particular impact on GPs and hospitals. People will end up in mental health units.”
He added: “The First Minister raised this but has done nothing about it – unless on Monday, they will commit more money to IJBs.
“Another £950m has been awarded from Westminster. Surely, some of that can go to delivering frontline services that are saving people’s lives.”
Moira Pringle, the IJB’s chief finance officer, was quizzed by board members after concerns were raised over a lack of feedback for organisations that had funding axed.
She said: “We worked very hard to come up with a process people could get behind and support. We do believe that these do offer the best value for that £14m we have.
“It was decided not to provide individual feedback based on the volume of the applications. We felt it was going to be very difficult and challenging to go around every organisation that had not been successful in this process.”
IJB chairman, Labour Cllr Ricky Henderson, proposed that finance officers will work with unsuccessful organisations to “ensure that service users are offered appropriate alternative support” and will “assist with identifying alternative funding or restructuring.”
He added: “I think we need to be wary of making any decisions that would exacerbate health and inequality and not make any situations worse.”