A VITAL family service which residents feared may have to close is set to be funded for a further five years.

Council bosses will tomorrow propose that the Families First services in Johnstone, Foxbar and Gallowhill be able to continue helping parents who struggle to cope.

Hundreds of families hit out at the council last year when they discovered funding was only in place until March, sparking fears that families would lose a ‘lifeline’ service.

Mum-of-three Heather Morrison, from Johnstone, launched a petition in a bid to save the service, while opposition councillors slammed the SNP administration for not promising to commit funding.

But Cllr John Shaw, finance convener, said cutting the service was never in his mind.

He said: “We were never going to stop the service. Labour councillors have known this. The budget was our first opportunity to say we are committing further funding.

“We have money in our budget to ensure the services will continue for the next five years and we hope councillors will get behind that.”

Families First, which also has bases in Linwood and Ferguslie Park, is wholly funded by the council and provides extra support to families in crisis or in financial difficulty.

Council chiefs said the teams in Johnstone, Foxbar and Gallowhill were established through temporary funding but they always planned to make sure money was in the budget to allow the services to continue.

It forms part of the council’s proposal to put £5million into its Tackling Poverty programme.

Council leader Iain Nicolson said: “Opposition councillors knew Families First was being looked at but the time in between when that kicked off and the budget got filled up with people’s ideas about what they thought was going to happen.

“No amount of us saying there was going to be funding was going to help until they saw it in black and white, but I did tell councillors it was going to be in our budget.”