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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

“Rebuild the relationship”: Scottish Labour commits to “New Deal for Third Sector”


Paul O’Kane MSP makes pledge at party conference in Glasgow. 

Scottish Labour are ready to rebuild the relationship between the Scottish Government and third sector organisations, the party’s conference has heard. 

Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice and Social Security, and Equalities, Paul O’Kane MSP, made the announcement at the SEC in Glasgow. 

TFN understands the new policy would be based on the principle of Fair Funding, which has long been championed by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

The West of Scotland representative talked of his background in voluntary organisations and charities, and how this continues to inform his work in Holyrood, as part of a speech on reforms needed to improve working conditions. 

He said Labour hoped to “rebuild the relationship” between the Scottish Government and third sector organisations. 

Mr O’Kane said: “Before myelection to Parliament, I worked for ENABLE Scotland and it was the honour of my life to support people who have a learning disability and their family carers access support, housing, and work.

“Our Third Sector organisations, so many of them here with us at conference, are having to do more with less to support people in their hour of need.

“The SNP have promised to overhaul the funding model for the third sector for nearly a decade – promises they were making when I was starting out in the voluntary sector (and that wasn’t yesterday) – but they have never materialised.

“Today we commit to bringing forward a New Deal for the Third Sector. Scottish Labour are ready to rebuild the relationship between the Scottish Government and our third sector organisations – that means ensuring they have security of funding and flexibility with their time and resources.

 “Our multi-year funding model allows organisations to demonstrate stability and the long-term potential of their services, which should attract additional investment from non-governmental partners.

“We will agree funding principles that work for both the government and the sector to ensure it is laser-focused on reducing poverty and growing the economy.”

The announcement was welcomed by those representing the sector, who urged the party to ensure that this commitment fulfils the full needs of the sector. 

Kirsten Hogg, SCVO’s head of policy and research, said: “Having worked with voluntary organisations over a number of years to define and campaign for Fair Funding, we warmly welcome Scottish Labour’s commitment to this agenda.

“Labour’s New Deal for Third Sector Funding must include all of the aspects of the Fair Funding principles that the sector has defined as important, including longer-term funding of three years or more; flexible, unrestricted core funding, which enables organisations to provide security, plan effectively, and fulfil good governance requirements; sustainable funding that includes inflation-based uplifts and full costs, including core operating costs; and funding that accommodates paying staff at least the Real Living Wage and pay uplifts for voluntary sector staff.

“It is particularly heartening to hear Scottish Labour’s focus on delivering on these commitments for the sector.  We have heard warm words of support and broken promises for long enough, and we must hope that this Labour commitment will be delivered on the ground, as without turning words into actions, no principles or commitments will make a difference to the sustainability of our essential sector.”



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