Glasgow aid charity might close after council ends concessionary rents

Rent for council-owned premises used by Glasgow the Caring City increases from £1 to about £18,000 a year

Glasgow the Caring City
Glasgow the Caring City

A Glasgow-based aid charity says it is facing closure because the city council is increasing its rent from £1 to about £18,000 a year.

Glasgow the Caring City, a charity that provides grass-roots support for young people in Glasgow and aid to people living in deprivation across the world, has been charged a £1 a year for the use of a warehouse and office in Glasgow for the past 10 years.

The decision is part of a move by Glasgow City Council to end concessionary rents for organisations, including charities, using council-owned commercial properties across the city.

The policy was approved by the council in December as part of its drive to find savings of £58m from its 2011/12 overall budget.

In a report about the change in policy, the council said that rents currently brought in £400,000 a year from the properties, but had the potential to bring in £2m a year.

The report said there were about 200 concessionary agreements and a number of organisations that benefited from the terms were charities.

Ross Galbraith, international projects manager for Glasgow the Caring City, told Third Sector that the council had asked the charity to sign a four-year lease that would result in the charity being charged an average rent of £18,000 a year.

"It will have a disastrous impact on us," he said. "We could go under entirely. We’re a small organisation with an annual turnover of £100,000. We’ve tried to negotiate with the council, but that was knocked on the head."

John Downie, director of public affairs at the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, said it was a "frankly disgraceful decision and should be reversed".

A spokeswoman for Glasgow City Council said it would continue to work with charities, including Glasgow the Caring City, to offer advice and help them find alternative accommodation that was more affordable.

"The review of concessionary rents was part of Glasgow's measured and well-considered budget efficiencies to find savings of £58m this year," she said. "No part of the council family was immune from the process to either make savings or generate money to fill the gap."

She added that charities would still be able to apply for grants to help them with their operating costs.

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