Full disclosure – I’m a fan of the National Performance Framework. I like the simplicity of setting out the kind of country Scotland aspires to be. I like the fact that it’s the only framework of its kind in the world with the word “love” in it. And I like that it’s got values at its centre. It also has cross-party support and doesn’t distinguish between sectors, geographies, or demographics. It’s something we can all feel part of.
But do we? How often do we stop and think “how am I helping make sure we live in communities that are inclusive, empowered, resilient and safe?” to take one example? How often are we asked by our boards, our elected representatives, our funders how we are contributing to the national outcomes?
And yet, like businesses and public sector bodies across Scotland, voluntary organisations are contributing significantly to the national outcomes on a daily basis. Whether that’s a village hall at the heart of its community or a homelessness charity, a grassroots football club or a housing association, we are all making a difference. Even at SCVO, we are contributing. For example, creating jobs for disadvantaged young people through Community Jobs Scotland, supporting charities, social enterprises and community groups to access funding and have the right infrastructure in place to do all the amazing things they do, and supporting digital inclusion.
When I see debates in the parliament and discourse in the media focusing on short-term, political point-scoring on things like numbers of police officers or teachers, I wonder where the challenge is on the National Outcomes. Where’s the collective aspiration? We know that investing time and money in prevention is essential if we are to address poverty, inequality and climate change. We’ve known it for years, even decades. But we don’t make that important shift because the benefits don’t show up within electoral cycles, and it means moving spend from the immediate pressures. And so the cycle continues.
Achieving many of the national outcomes depends on community development and individual behaviour change, but we are too busy putting our resources into mitigating harms caused by policy choices, traditional institutional silos and under-investment in prevention.
The Scottish Parliament’s Finance and Public Administration Committee has launched an inquiry into how the National Outcomes shape Scottish Government policy aims and spending decisions, and in turn, how this drives delivery at national and local level. They want to hear from you! I know voluntary organisations of all shapes and sizes are making a huge contribution to achieving Scotland’s national outcomes and it’s important the Committee get a picture of that glorious diversity. You can find out more about it and share your views here.