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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.

UK Shared Prosperity Fund would be ditched under Tory National Service plan

 

The proposal would be funded by winding down the programme by 2028. 

The UK Shared Prosperity Fund could be wound down before 2030 as part of the Conservatives’ plans to introduce compulsory National Service for young people. 

The governing party, who announced the General Election date for July 4th last week, set out the proposal at the weekend. 

Rishi Sunak’s flagship National Service policy would see all 18-year-olds undertake a mandatory 12-month placement in the armed forces or carry out monthly volunteer work. 

The option to volunteer in their community would require 25 days of work during that year in organisations such as police, fire and NHS services, as well as charities tackling loneliness among the elderly. 

The proposals have raised concerns from those in the third sector, with questions over the impact on existing volunteering and funding which remains in place. 

The proposal from Rishi Sunak states that it will be funded by closing the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) in 2028 after only six years. The UKSPF is a key part of the levelling up agenda and was the replacement for EU structural funds - much of which went to volunteering organisations in every part of the UK through local authorities and other bodies. 

The Conservatives said National Service would cost £2.5billion per year by 2029/30, when it is fully rolled out. 

The policy proposal added: “Of the full funding envelope, £1bn of this will be funded through our plan to raise an additional £6bn a year by the end of the next Parliament from cracking down on tax avoidance and evasion. 

“The remaining £1.5bn will be paid for using funding previously used for the UKSPF. We will extend the UKSPF for three years. During this time, it will be allocated across the Union on the same basis as before. 

“From 2028/29 onwards, the UKSPF will be diverted into National Service and the Royal Commission will be tasked with ensuring an equitable spread of spending across the UK.”

Representative bodies have previously argued for continued funding from the UKSPF to provide stability for organisations. 

As it stands funding for the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) will end in 2025, with currently no assurance that more money will be provided to realise the Levelling Up missions that are due to be achieved by 2030.

Volunteer Scotland wrote in response: “there has been considerable commentary over the weekend about ‘mandatory volunteering’. As Scotland’s national centre for volunteering, it is our stance that any mandatory activity cannot be considered as volunteering because it is not voluntary. 

“This is further reinforced in principle one of the Volunteer Charter, which states that ‘any volunteer activity is a freely made choice of the individual. If there is any compulsion, threat of sanctions or force, then any such activity is not volunteering’.”

Anna Fowlie, SCVO chief executive said:“Prior to leaving the EU, voluntary organisations, and communities up and down Scotland benefitted from European funding. The successor scheme, the Shared Prosperity Fund, while not without its issues, was to be welcomed.

“It is alarming now to see the suggestion that these funds should be diverted away from their original stated purpose without any consultation with our sector, or indeed anyone else. 

“SCVO has called for the UK Government to commit to continuing the UK Shared Prosperity Fund for another five years, ensuring the long-term certainty and quality of outcomes that communities and voluntary organisations need. We will continue to make that case, and hope that the next UK Government takes heed of what works and what matters to local communities.”

 

Comments

0 0
Liza Hollingshead
17 days ago

I hope you will send this information to the BBC to follow up. It is outrageous and should be a main reason not to put the Conservatives back in power. Your point that 'any volunteer activity is a freely made choice of the individual. If there is any compulsion, threat of sanctions or force, then any such activity is not volunteering’ should be made public. Thanks to SCVO.