Charities Face 'Huge Cuts in Funding' to Pay for Salmond Budget; Alex Salmond: Populist Giveaways

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Byline: Simon Johnson

FIRST Minister Alex Salmond was last night accused of stripping millionsof pounds from charities to pay for his lavish spending plans.

The SNP's first budget since taking power contains a string of populistgiveaways, including a council tax freeze and abolishing bridge tolls andprescription charges.

But charities last night argued they are facing swingeing grant cuts to fundthe pledges.

They claimed the full scale of the cuts will only emerge over the coming weekswhen their funding from councils is confirmed.

Some groups will lose all their funding under the plans, forcing them to close,while others face an uphill struggle to survive.

Last night, Labour finance spokesman Iain Gray said: 'Alex Salmond's budgetwill hit vulnerable groups across Scotland.

' The real losers in this budget will 'The real losers in this budget will bedisabled children who are being denied [pounds sterling]34million for respite care, pensionerswaiting to have their central heating installed and women looking for supportafter suffering domestic violence.' The Scottish Executive's three-year budgetwas rubber-stamped at Holyrood on Wednesday thanks to the support of theTories, whose demands for extra police and tax cuts for small businesses weremet.

It includes [pounds sterling]93million over the next three years for the voluntary sector, asubstantial increase on the spending plans of the previous Labour and LiberalDemocrat administration.

But charities fear their council funding, which forms 30 per cent of theirincome, is about to be slashed.

This is because the SNP has stopped 'ring-fencing' the vast majority of thecash it gives local authorities, giving them much more freedom on how to spendtheir money.

With council chiefs under huge financial pressure to deliver a council taxfreeze and expensive equal pay settlements, charity funding is an easy targetfor cuts. …