Funding to help the voluntary sector thrive post-coronavirus has been announced as part of the Programme for Government
A multi-million pound fund to help the voluntary sector thrive post-coronavirus has been announced.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced the Programme for Government this afternoon as the Scottish Government aims to help the country recover socially and economically from Covid-19.
And the plans for 2020/21 include a £25 million Community and Third Sector Recovery Programme which aims to ensure organisations can support the recovery.
The programme states: “Beyond the immediate need our role must be to create the best conditions for the third sector and volunteering to thrive and contribute to a recovering economy and society. As we move from the immediate response to recovery we will now refocus part of the Communities Fund into a £25 million Community and Third Sector Recovery Programme. This will include business support and investment to help organisations adapt their operations and income generation to increase sustainability. This funding will support our third sector to continue to support people and communities in responding to the ongoing impact of the pandemic.
“We will begin work to explore other strands of social investment including capital loans to support the sector to work together and co‑locate as the demand for office space declines, whilst leaving organisations with an asset in future years to enhance sustainability, and ensuring that this benefits all areas, particularly those hardest hit by the crisis.
“We will also build upon our existing and extensive work to support social enterprises and credit unions which provide vital financial services for some of our most deprived communities. We will launch the next Social Enterprise Action Plan, by the autumn, and the credit union strategy by the end of the parliamentary term – both of these are essential to a wellbeing economy.”
More details on applying for the fund are set to be released in the coming weeks.
The programme also includes a pledge to re‑start the process of co‑production with the sector to review charity law and publish proposals for reform by the end of the parliamentary session.
Other announcements of note for the sector include a review of adult social care with a view to creating a national care service, Housing First to be expanded significantly and a £60m youth guarantee which aims to ensure young people have access to high quality jobs.
It was also announced that the Connecting Scotland initiative, which sees digital technology and training rolled out to vulnerable communities, will be extended.
Sturgeon said: "We must eliminate digital exclusion. During lockdown, working with the third sector, councils and the tech industry, we established Connecting Scotland. It has provided iPads and Chromebooks with internet connections to people on low incomes.
"It helps tackle the causes and the consequences of poverty. The initial priority was people shielding or at high risk of severe illness. The programme is now helping care leavers and low income households with children. It helps families, improves employment opportunities and provides better access to healthcare and education.
"We intend to significantly expand the programme in the coming year. I can announce today that, by the end of 2021, Connecting Scotland will provide an electronic device, unlimited data and two years of support and training to 50,000 people who would otherwise be without digital access that the rest of us take for granted. This is a massive step and it will help us end the digital divide, once and for all."