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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.

"System change": Calls for overhaul of third sector funding

This news post is 9 months old

The SCVO told MSPs that multi-year funding is a must to allow voluntary organisations to continue their work.

A Scottish Parliament committee has been warned that a “system change” must be brought about in how the voluntary organisations in Scotland is funded to secure the future of the sector. 

The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) has said without the introduction of multi-year funding in an upcoming government spending review many in the third sector will be unable to prioritise frontline services. 

Last month the SCVO published its own written submission to the short inquiry, called by Holyrood’s Finance and Public Administration Committee, into the government’s consultative framework document on its forthcoming Scottish Resource Spending Review. 

The national membership organisation for the voluntary sector told the inquiry that the commitment to meet with third sector organisations from Finance Secretary Kate Forbes was welcome. 

They wrote: “The establishment of multi-year funding across the board for the voluntary sector must be an overarching priority. The framework does identify the intention to publish multi-year spending plans in May 2022, but does not specifically identify this as applying to the voluntary sector.

“It must be an integral part of both Scottish Government funding for the sector and a key condition of local authority multi-year funding given the reliance on voluntary organisations at local level.”

Resource Spending is the spending on day-to-day running costs of government programmes and administration.

Paul Bradley, SCVO Policy and Public Affairs Manager, told MSPs at the session on Tuesday morning that the current financial predicaments facing voluntary organisations is inhibiting their ability to plan long-term. 

He said: “I think there’s hope at SCVO and hope in the SCVO that this review will lead to multi-year funding. 

“Yes we are asking for more money in terms of, there should be inflationary uplifts and there should be a contribution to core operational costs for organisations - particularly as there has been a shift to more project and service funding - and forgetting all of the support that organisations need to run their organisations.

“Our hope is that it isn’t just about increasing the level of funding, it’s about getting the most out of the funding that is already there. This is about a whole system change around how funding is allocated to voluntary organisations to ensure they can make the best impact they can in their communities. 

“I would say that asking organisations to apply for funding, chasing their tails to stay open, within a one year annual cycle, is wasting a lot of money. It’s wasting a lot of government money, it’s wasting a lot of taxpayers money, because that funding is going to organisations and they’re having to then use that capacity and time rather than focusing on service delivery and supporting people, by finding new pots of money to try and make up that new jigsaw of funding. 

“Regardless of the priorities that are set out, we want to see a mainstreaming of multi-year funding across government. Importantly, not just in terms of Scottish Government funding to voluntary organisations, but from local authorities who should hopefully get multi-year settlements, local government funding of voluntary organisations.”

He welcomed the support from Cosla for multi-year funding in their submission as well, urging questions to be asked about this if this level of financial support does not materialise. 

Mr Bradley also warned that there was a concern that organisations are at the mercy of funders, with a focus often put onto new projects. 

The calls come as the committee announced a fresh inquiry calling for input from the third sector. 

The Scottish Government’s National Performance Framework is to be the subject of a new inquiry – Ambitions into Action - by Holyrood’s Finance and Public Administration Committee.

First introduced in 2007, the framework sets out the government’s ambitions for society and the kind of Scotland it aims to create.

The framework identifies National Outcomes for Scotland and seeks to focus government activity and spending on meeting these outcomes, aiming to get everyone in Scotland to work together.

The Finance and Public Administration Committee has launched a call for views on how National Outcomes shape the government’s policy aims, calling for voices from the third sector to come forward. 

Committee convener, Kenneth Gibson MSP, said: “Our committee is looking at how the National Outcomes shape Scottish Government policy aims and spending decisions, and in turn, how this drives delivery at national and local level.

“The remit for this inquiry is to examine the current structures, processes and cultures that are in place to help deliver the National Outcomes. 

“We want to hear from national and local government, businesses and the voluntary sector, as well as individuals, about their first-hand experiences of delivering the national outcomes, what’s worked well and where improvements can be made.”  

To inform this inquiry, the committee is looking for written views from organisations with experiences of using the National Outcomes in the NPF to shape their policy making and decision taking as well as delivery at national and local level.Written evidence can be submitted until April 14.



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