SCVO has written to John Swinney also calling for multi-year funding
Scotland’s voluntary sector urgently needs parity with other areas of public life if lifeline services are to survive the cost of living crisis.
That’s the message from the country’s charities to the Scottish Government ahead of December’s Scottish Budget.
Anna Fowlie, chief executive of the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO), has written to deputy first minister John Swinney following his recent Emergency Budget Response.
Charities are disappointed that no provision has been made for cash to be available to fund wage uplifts for voluntary sector workers to at least the Real Living Wage – despite action being taken on this in the public sector.
SCVO has pointed out that the charity sector provides many essential services which are being put at risk as running costs soar.
Scotland’s voluntary organisations employ 135,000 people including more women (64.5%), more part-time workers (37%), and more people with a disability (23%) than the public and private sectors.
These are groups who are at greater risk of living in poverty, and inequality has deepened during and since the pandemic.
Fowlie says that Swinney, who will present the next Scottish Budget on 15 December, should “lead by example” and “support departments across the local and national government to resource voluntary organisations to uplift wages and pay the Real Living Wage, as has been the case for public sector staff.”
Among other things, SCVO is also calling for multi-year funding at a minimum of three years, flexible, unrestricted core funding, allowing organisations to provide security and plan effectively and sustainable funding that includes inflationary uplifts and full costs, including core operating costs.
Fowlie said: “These commitments will provide the security essential for a sustainable voluntary sector which can survive the running costs crisis.”
A spokesperson for the Scottish Government responded: “The Scottish Government recognises the impact that rising operating costs is having across society including on charities and voluntary organisations.
“There has never been a time of greater pressure on the public finances. The Scottish Government's budget today is worth £1.7 billion less than when it was published last December. At the same time, demand for government support and intervention is understandably increasing.
“We continue to invest widely in the third sector and have committed to increase multi-year funding for the third sector wherever possible. However, our ability to fulfil our devolved responsibilities remains a significant challenge due to the UK government’s budgeting approach.”