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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.

First Minister’s resignation can’t affect our sector’s priorities


Anna Fowlie says political upheaval can’t detract from the sector’s needs

As Scotland stops to watch the political goings on at Holyrood, it is vital that we don’t take our eye off the ball. 

While it is not clear how things will unfold over the coming weeks and months for our political leadership, we know that for voluntary organisations across Scotland demand will continue to rise and financial conditions will continue to be uncertain.  We cannot allow a leadership election, the appointment of a new First Minister, or even a parliamentary election, to be used as further excuses not to provide the sector with the certainty it so desperately needs. 

With cross party commitments to change the way governments invest in the sector, our concern is not that a change at the top will strip out the political commitment to make improvements.  But commitments only make a difference when they are implemented, and further delays in implementation must be avoided at all costs.   

It is a sad state of affairs that many voluntary organisations still don’t have their funding for this financial year confirmed, let alone paid, and this needs to be addressed immediately.  Work to improve Scottish Government’s approach to grant-making is well underway and we know that while some officials are pressing hard for implementation, there remains a blockage at the administrative heart of government.  A change in political leadership should not impact on progress. The parliament has acknowledged that this needs to be addressed for a decade now and it is crucial that political upheaval is not used as an excuse for more delays. 

There is cross party support for multi-year funding to the sector, and this has featured in multiple government strategies.  We were told during the budget process at the end of last year that the medium-term financial strategy, planned for the end of May, was where Scottish Government would set out its plans to deliver multi-year funding.  This is the time to make good on the former First Minister’s commitment at The Gathering that at least a modest exploration of multi-year arrangements for the sector is coming.  A new Cabinet, under a new First Minister, must deliver on this. 

As the situation unfolds during the coming weeks and months, it would be naïve to expect these issues to be high up the political discourse.  But if we don’t continue to pay attention to them, or use the excuse of the political circus to delay or defer them, we will be storing up considerable problems for the future government to deal with.   

Our sector is an employer, a partner, and a vital social and economic actor. To meet demand, support volunteers, pay a fair wage, and deliver quality outcomes, its essential that progress is made towards the Scottish Government’s commitment to achieve fairer funding by 2026.  SCVO will have its eye on that ball. 

Anna Fowlie is Chief Executive of the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations' (SCVO)



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