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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.

“The budget failed”: third sector voices slam Tory government budget


The plans were outlined by Chancellor Jeremy Hunt at Westminster

Scotland’s voluntary sector has slated the UK Government’s latest budget plans, outlining the ongoing crisis and cuts to services across the country. 

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt unveiled his party’s spending plans in Westminster on Wednesday, with voices from across the third sector hitting out at the announcement. 

Hunt used the political set piece to outline the Tories’ offering to the public ahead of a general election this year. 

This included a cut in National Insurance, and an increase to the level of earnings at which child benefit is withdrawn.

Charities across the sector said the budget failed to meet the challenges of the cost of living crisis. 

SCVO chief executive Anna Fowlie said: “I share the disappointment of other voluntary sector bodies that the spring budget did not recognise the essential services and support of voluntary organisations both in Scotland and across the UK. 

“Our essential sector is a major employer, a partner in delivering public services, and a vital contributor to society and the economy. 

“While parts of the sector were recognised and resourced, including a welcome package for medical research charities who make such an important contribution, the budget failed to address the continuing pressures faced by organisations across the sector. 

“The last few years have been a period of significant change and upheaval for Scottish voluntary organisations, their staff and volunteers, and the people and communities they work with. Rising inflation and the resulting cost of living crisis and running costs crisis have strained our sector’s finances and increased demand for the support and services many organisations provide, as demonstrated in our Third Sector Tracker. 

"This crisis is not over. Any cuts to public services will impact on people across society, especially those on the lowest incomes who rely on them most, increasing pressure on voluntary sector services. Similarly, with little to support those in the greatest need, demand for charity services is likely to continue to increase. 

"To protect our sector’s essential contributions in the future, underfunding and a lack of inflation-based uplifts in grants and contracts can and should have been addressed.”

This was echoed by others within Scotland, including Citizens Advice Scotland, who said “there was a complete absence of the kind of support those on lower incomes need”. 

The charity’s social justice spokesperson, Emma Jackson, added: “We would encourage the Scottish Government to use any additional funding from this budget to invest in measures that will reduce poverty and support the cost of living – like investing in housing.”

Peter Kelly of the Poverty Alliance said the budget failed to deliver “a society based on justice and compassion, where everyone has a solid foundation to build a better life”. 

He added: “The UK is one of the wealthiest countries in the world. Since the 1960s, our economy has trebled in size, but our political leaders are failing in their responsibility to use that massive wealth to invest in the public good.”

Meanwhile, John Dickie of Child Poverty Action Group Scotland said the UK budget was “all but blind” to struggling families and public services they rely on. 

Matt Whittaker, CEO of Pro Bono Economics, said: “The chancellor can rightly celebrate the modest overall improvement to economic prospects today’s OBR figures anticipate compared to our previous fortunes. The country is no longer stuck in reverse but beginning a slow first-gear crawl forward. Combined with energy costs falling, the National Insurance cut will help growth roll forwards a tad faster and push the UK’s average living standards out of the doldrums they were sinking into previously.

“But behind these averages, too many face challenges that continue to deepen. A significant minority of the UK population cannot afford to heat their homes or to eat healthy food. The number of people in temporary accommodation has hit record levels, while physical and mental health continues to deteriorate. The OBR expects household debt servicing costs to rise by £24 billion over the next year, taking repayments as a share of income back to levels last seen in 2010. And unemployment is projected to rise to 1.6 million by the end of 2024. Notions of recovery will therefore remain an illusion to many of the people across the UK who have the lowest wellbeing.

“While temporary maintenance of the Household Support Fund is welcome, there is little else in today’s announcement designed to support those in the greatest need. That is likely to mean demand on the nation’s charities continuing to climb. The charity sector is just beginning to emerge from the pandemic and cost of living crisis, and capacity remains tight – with a third of charities expecting to be unable to meet demand for their services this quarter. Indications are that charity income will gradually improve over the next year, but that recovery is fragile."



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