The news was announced last week and makes North Lanarkshire the first local authority in Scotland to withdraw financial support from the organisations which offer refuge and support for women and girls experiencing domestic abuse and violence.
Speaking on Thursday at First Minister’s Questions, Nicola Sturgeon said: “I am aware of the situation in North Lanarkshire, and while I am aware that it is a decision for the local authority, I think it is a deeply disappointing decision.”
The council has previously been criticised for the “callous step” of cancelling its £350,000 annual funding to three Women’s Aid groups, and Ms Sturgeon has supported the criticism saying that women having access to these services is absolutely “vital”.
She said that the Scottish Government currently provides around £174,000 annually to Monklands Women’s Aid and around £111,000 annually to Motherwell District Women’s Aid, two of the services which have found themselves lacking support in North Lanarkshire.
She added that applications are also open for the new £13 million Delivering Equally Safe fund which supports violence against women and girls services and projects across the country.
Ms Sturgeon continued: “Women having access to frontline services dealing with violent and domestic abuse is vital, and that’s why we’ve committed to review how national and local specialist services for women and children experiencing gender based violence are commissioned and funded, and how we can ensure quality and sustainability”.
Last week, Dr Marsha Scott, chief executive of Scottish Women’s Aid, said she was “appalled” at the actions of the council which had “pulled the rug from under the feet of long-established, trusted women’s aid services”.
She said: “Women in Scotland have felt a disproportionate impact of Covid-19 - whether in unpaid care work, home schooling, job losses or homelessness.
"It is incomprehensible to us that North Lanarkshire Council have taken the decisions they have, in the full knowledge that this will further disadvantage those women and children by disrupting their access to specialist support around domestic abuse”.