GLASGOW City Council has rejected criticism made of the local authority in Philip Alston’s report into poverty in the UK.

The UN’s rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights visited the city during his two-week fact-finding mission to Britain, and met with a number of charities and organisations.

Though he praises the Scottish Government for much of their work to “mitigate” the austerity being implemented by London, he is critical of how little the Scottish Welfare Fund is known about by the very people it aims to help.

The scheme was set up by the Scottish Government in 2013 after the Department for Work and Pensions scrapped the discretionary Social Fund.

It’s a national programme, run by local authorities, to “provide a safety net” for people on low incomes when disaster or emergency strike.

It also issues community care grants to help vulnerable people set up a home or continue to live independently.

Not all grants are cash payments, and councils can provide vouchers, a fuel card, or goods.

In his report, Alston said civil society groups had raised concerns about “a general lack of awareness of local welfare funds for people in crisis and the considerable variation in how local authorities process applications for these emergency grants”.

He said “In Glasgow only 3% of local Welfare Fund applications were decided in a day, whereas other councils managed to decide these claims within a day 99% of the time.”

But council officers in Glasgow said Alston’s figures weren’t correct. A spokesman for the local authority said: “The council processes 91% of applications within 24 hours and was identified as recently as last month as an example of best practice across Scotland.”

Councils have until the “end of the next working day” to process crisis grants.

The most recent statistics from the Scottish Government, covering the quarter between April and June 2018, revealed that there were 16,175 applications for community care grants, and 45,290 applications for crisis grants.

Some 95% of crisis grant applications were processed by local authorities having met that target time.

However, it varied from 71% in Shetland to 100% in Argyll and Bute.

Responding to Alston’s report, John Dickie, from the Child Poverty Action Group, commented: “Access to the Scottish Welfare Fund needs to be easier and more consistent across Scotland to help ensure families in crisis have access to cash rather than being forced to foodbanks.”

The fund has paid out £173million to more than 300,000 households since its inception.