Upcoming elections; what’s in it for the third sector?

What you need to know before the Glasgow City Council Elections 

This Thursday 5th of May, Glaswegians will take to the polls and elect a new administration for Glasgow City Council. The city of Glasgow is divided into 23 wards, each of which elects 3 or 4 Councillors by the Single Transferable Vote system. Currently the council is run by an SNP minority administration, and the nature of the voting system used in these elections means it is very difficult for any one political party to get an absolute majority.

Each of the four main political parties standing at this election – the SNP, the Labour Party, the Conservatives and the Greens – has issued a specific manifesto for the city. This blog outlines the key pledges that will be of interest to the third sector.  While it does not claim to be comprehensive, and we recommend people read the full manifestos for themselves, we hope it will highlight the key points most important to you.

image of Glasgow from above


Poverty

Recent research carried out by the third sector into the costs of the school day has clearly been influential on politicians, with both the Green and Labour Parties particularly committed to reducing these costs.

  • Policies have been introduced reviewing the costs of school uniforms and trips, freezes in school meal charges (Labour), and a commitment to continue the holiday food and activity programme (Greens).
  • The SNP meanwhile pledge to work towards universal free school meals.
    • The SNP also plan to distribute 80,000 Glasgow Loves Local shopping cards to low income households and to review and refresh the city’s Poverty Leadership Panel. They want to introduce a Universal Basic Income pilot, and will continue to lobby for this.
  • Both the Labour and Conservative parties pledge to re-introduce the Affordable Warmth Payment.

Food

  • The Labour Party pledge to deliver the Glasgow City Food Plan and to appoint a Food Champion for the city.
  • The SNP want to increase local food growing, using derelict land, to provide more allotments and community food gardens, as well as developing the pantry model.
  • The Green Party pledges to “support a holistic approach to food policy, tackling the health, social and environmental impacts of food, (to) support community food projects which work to ensure good food is available to all, distributed equitably, and eaten with company, (to) invest in new food growing spaces and deliver the Food Growing strategy.”
  • Both Labour and the SNP also commit to the ongoing development of the Glasgow Helps service, which, while not specifically a food service, continues to make referrals to third sector food providers in the city for people in need.

Glasgow Communities Fund

  • The Scottish Conservatives pledge that they will “have an independent review of council funding of the third sector and the Glasgow Communities Fund”.
  • Labour want to see the fund refreshed “so that it is open and fair”, in consultation with the third sector and the communities it serves.
  • The SNP pledge to implement the findings of the review of the Communities Fund, and also to embed the findings of the third sector workstream carried out by the Social Recovery Task Force.
  • The Green Party aim to ‘fund the third sector better’, specifically pledging to;
    • “Ensure the Council learns lessons from its handling of the Glasgow Communities Fund, moving away from competitive grant processes that pit essential services against each other. Instead we will develop partnership approaches to funding of core services, initially focusing on financial and legal advice and on equalities and gender based violence services.
    • Remove political influence over grant funding and consider the role of external, independent management of grant programmes.
    • Commit to multi-year funding wherever possible, with allocations increasing, not tapering down, each year to account for increasing costs.”

Democracy, Community Engagement and Community Planning

In terms of Community Planning, there appears to be cross-party consensus that, in one way or another, the Area Partnerships are to be given a more important role in decision-making:

  • The Conservatives pledge to increase the powers of Area Partnerships.
  • The Labour Party want to see a Community Forum in every ward, open to every resident (more open than a selected Citizens Panel approach) to inform the work of Area Partnerships.
  • The SNP want to roll out their Area Partnership proposals, and introduce local community funding panels to distribute money at ward level.
  • The Greens pledge to realign Area Partnerships with neighbourhoods, not electoral wards, and expand their membership so they encompass a wider range of organisations.

Asset Transfer/People Make Glasgow Communities

  • The Conservatives want to “explore the introduction of the ‘Right to Bid’, allowing community and voluntary bodies to take over running of council services and the ‘Right to Buy’ for community groups to gain control of assets and land”.
    • Additionally, the Conservatives state that they will “Prevent Glasgow Life from offloading, by leasing public buildings to community groups to manage when Glasgow Life itself has not been able to turn a profit/break even on the building.”
  • The SNP intend to continue with the People Make Glasgow Communities Programme.
  • The Labour Party are committed to ensuring that any transfers are sustainable and have the support of the local community.
  • The Green Party, however, intend to pause it “and implement a new approach which enables genuine community empowerment but does not confuse it with stripping of public assets.”
    • Additionally the Green Party have specific pledges about parks and green spaces, stating that they will “Help communities to acquire and manage land as recreational greenspace, including parks, land managed for nature, community orchards and growing projects.”

Culture, Sport & Glasgow Life Venues

  • The Labour Party pledge to re-open all community centres.  Additionally, Labour will freeze the charges for hiring Glasgow Life and school venues.
  • The Conservatives pledge to reopen all Glasgow Life venues “as soon as possible” (with a specific commitment to the People’s Palace and Winter Gardens) and to retain public libraries and community centres, plus free swimming and cycling lessons for children.
  • The SNP highlight that they are seeking further investment for the re-opening of the People’s Palace and Winter Gardens.
  • Additionally the Conservatives are campaigning for “a full independent review of Glasgow Life to see if it is fit for purpose, including whether its functions should be brought back into the council.”  This is not dissimilar to the Green Party’s pledge to “consult on options to reform Glasgow Life’s arms-length model… including returning some, or all, of its functions to direct Council control.”

Social Enterprise

While there is little detail in any of the manifestos concerning specific policies for social enterprises, the Green Party recognise their role and “will draw on the value” of them, Labour will expand support for social enterprises, and the SNP want to increase the number of social enterprises in Glasgow and will enable them to compete better with commercial enterprises.

Volunteering

Only the Scottish Conservative & Unionist Party manifesto makes any mention of volunteering despite the upcoming launch of the Scottish Government’s Volunteering for All Framework Action Plan this June.

As a city, we need to continue to support and enable appropriate and more inclusive volunteering across virtually every aspect of society to achieve and sustain a fairer, greener and healthier economy.


Other key issues that the parties discuss in their manifestos, include, among other things, the environment, transport, education and housing.  Current hot political issues, particularly city cleansing, are also covered in detail.

It is highly recommended that people read the manifestos directly, as each of the parties have much to say that is unique to them, and will be of interest.

Read the Manifestos here;

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