Councillors split on how to spend £500,000 of unused fuel poverty cash

A Labour councillor called for some of the funds to go towards providing food for children during the February school break.

Glasgow councillors split on how to spend £500,000 of unused fuel poverty cash iStock

Councillors have disagreed on how to spend part of £500,000 worth of cash left over from a fuel poverty fund that was not handed out in Glasgow.

It is recommended £200,000 go to children’s services to help families before they reach crisis and £300,000 be invested in child poverty pathfinder projects to support kids.

But Labour councillor Jill Pidgeon called for £60,000 of the £300,000 to be spent on providing food for children during the February school break.

The holiday food programme runs when schools are off but was cancelled for the upcoming February due to lack of money, according to councillor Pidgeon.

A meeting on Thursday decided the £500,000 allocation will be stalled until a later date to allow more time for officials to consider whether the diversion of the funds is possible.

Discussing the £500,000 underspend from a total of a £1m fuel fund, city treasurer and SNP councillor Ricky Bell said: “When we first allocated that money there wasn’t much help for people in that space.”

Speaking at the city administration committee on Thursday, Bell said the subsequent availability of UK and Scottish Government funding meant demand reduced for the council’s Glasgow Fuel Support project for last year.

He said: “We found the demand for fuel vouchers diminished.”

Councillor Bell said the funds should be reallocated to ensure the money reaches families who are in difficulty across the city.

After the proposal was put forward, councillor Pidgeon introduced an amendment calling for £60,000 to be diverted to reinstate the February holiday food programme.

Councillor Bell voiced concern whether organisations would be able to deliver the scheme in time.

Councillor Pidgeon said she believes there is still time to roll it out.”

The Labour amendment said: “February is a difficult time for families just after Christmas.

“We are still in a cost of living crisis.”

Council leader Susan Aitken, who chaired the meeting, said the late amendment was “extremely last minute,” which she branded “unacceptable.”

The paper will be brought back to the committee at a later date after councillor Pidgeon asked for a delay.

The £1m Glasgow Fuel Support Programme was part of a £3m Cost of Living Crisis Support Fund from the council made available in the financial year 2022 to 2023.

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