Falkirk Council SNP Group Leader, Cecil Meiklejohn, has heavily criticised a proposal by the Labour Tory Administration to spend £35,000 from the “Fairer Falkirk Fund” on private consultants to tell them where hard to reach individuals who would benefit from assistance, item 12 o n the agenda.
The Fairer Falkirk Fund is fully funded by the Scottish Government under the Fairer Scotland package designed to assist local groups reduce inequality.
In a report to be considered by the council’s Executive Committee.on 14 January Councillors are being asked to use £35k of an £80k underspend to meet the cost of hiring private consultants to tell the local authority where difficult to reach applicants for assistance can be found.
The SNP want this money to be allocated to enhance the efforts of charities such as the volunteers who run the various foodbanks.
In a letter to Labour Leader, Craig Martin, Mrs Meiklejohn argues that this fund is specifically targeted at local government to reduce inequality, not pay for private consultants.
Mrs Meiklejohn said,
“Clearly, spending the money on consultants does not meet the SNP Government’s criteria for the use of these resources.
The SNP believe that you only have to speak to local charities and front line council staff to realise you don’t have to spend thousands of pounds on fees when we have such a rich seam of knowledge from council staff and volunteers that allows the council to act.
How much more benefit to vulnerable people can £35,000 spread between local charity groups who are best placed to make local decisions based on local knowledge.”
The SNP leader has made her demands in a letter to Councillor Martin and hopes that by making a plea for change of mind before a final position is adopted by the coalition administration ahead of the committee meeting. The SNP have 2 of the 12 members of the Executive Committee, and have boycotted the committee as they would be entitled to 5 members if the committee membership was decided proportionally
The SNP leader argues that irrespective of whether or not the SNP took up their two places it would take the support of the Labour members of the committee to change the proposal and this is best achieved by an approach to the Labour and Tory leaders ahead of the meeting.
Quote from Councillor Meiklejohn,,
“There is no record of the current administration accepting opposition amendments moved on the day from the floor so there is no excuse from Labour.
If they press ahead with denying these support groups the money they propose to give to private consultants then the finger can only be pointed at them for what is both a scandal and further demonstration of how out of touch this Labour / Tory coalition are.
Thanks to the Westminster Government’s austerity cuts we are witnessing unprecedented levels of poverty within our communities. The ruling local coalition have the choice of siding with the charities and volunteers who are providing real benefits or spend £35,000 on fees to private sector consultants.
I know whose side the SNP are on.”