NEW coronavirus restrictions across the region this week are a reminder that we are still in the midst of an unprecedented global pandemic.

Government and public health officials need to lead, but we’ll only keep the virus under control if we respond with unity and collective spirit.

We need a similar common purpose to our recovery too, but that cannot be done when vital services are being lost.

Greens recently led calls for our lifeline libraries to reopen.

This week, we fought to stop cuts to other essential services, including citizens advice and law centres, disability charities and violence against women organisations, who had not been recommended for funding by the Glasgow Communities Fund.

This was a new funding pot, replacing the Council’s old grants scheme, which had left many groups locked-out of accessing support. Opening it up was right to do, but when it became clear that so many lifeline services were threatened, there was – rightly – a public outcry. Greens and others warned this would happen but we were ignored. So, what happened?

The new scheme was opened last September, closed in October, got extended first by a week, then into January. By February it was clearly running into problems and existing grants had to be rolled-on for six months, but this left everyone in limbo.

Assessments were complete in early summer then sat-on, known only to the SNP for months. Finally, a year on, the results came out. Turmoil, and no plan. It seemed at first the SNP would just plough on regardless, but at the eleventh hour - bowing to huge public and political pressure – they’ve found £4m for a transition fund to help limit the damage. Greens welcomed this, so groups who had been waiting could finally get the money they need, as well as reassurance of support for vital services.

The SNP’s mismanagement has been breathtaking.

A flagship manifesto commitment, three years in the bungling. They said this was about resetting the relationship with the third sector, but they kept moving the goalposts, ignored the sector’s warnings, and walked away from meaningful partnership working. They’re now starting a reset of the reset, at the same time as rushing into crisis funding conversations.

We still need to see the details of this stop-gap funding, which will be presented in two weeks’ time. We have concerns the SNP is again promising more than they can deliver. We spent last week hearing from organisations who all told us that demand is rising and will accelerate further as furlough ends, unemployment rises, and debt and evictions loom. The sticking plaster cash could quickly be insufficient.

That’s why we also need the independent review, which Greens insisted on, to bring about long term reform. The council needs to turn its commitments to working better with the third sector into meaningful change.

That should include asking how, if ever, the council should run discretionary funds, or if there are better ways we can match money with need. One of the Communities Fund’s “winners” Catrin Evans, of theatre group A Moment’s Peace, described the language this week about scarce funding and fierce competition as like a Hunger Games for the third sector. She’s right; this is a false narrative, and we must do better by all our communities, starting now.