The Scottish Government’s consultation on its first multi-year resource spending review since 2011 closes in three weeks, on 27 March. We need to use this time to rally together to secure a spending review that delivers for Scotland’s voluntary sector. By deliver, we mean the mainstreaming of multi-year funding from both the Scottish and local government to the sector, with favourable terms including inflationary uplifts, core running costs, and the trust and flexibility to spend budgets in the best way. 

Given that progress has been painfully slow when it comes to multi-year funding, despite all the good policy intention and grand commitments, I know you may already be rolling your eyes and thinking this is impossible. I, too, am approaching this spending review with some understandable concerns, but with a suitable amount of hope that we, working together, can secure the greater financial and planning certainty our organisations so desperately need and have been calling for over so many years.  

In recent weeks, SCVO responded to the Scottish Parliament’s Finance and Public Administration Committee to outline our initial concerns and expectations with regards to the Scottish Government’s Resource Spending Review Framework, published in December last year. We gave oral evidence on 1 March, making the point that the changes we are asking for are now certainly within the Scottish Government’s power, following the UK Government’s multi-year spending review last year.   

While I hope the committee will make important recommendations to the Scottish Government in its official report, which will be published soon, we need the Scottish Government to hear our voices loud and clear. Admittedly, there have been some examples of three-year funding, but it’s outright frustrating when improvements in the minority of areas are used to aggrandise practice across the board. In fact, where progress has been made, we have then seen some sliding back to single year funding. 

SCVO will be building on our early submission to the Scottish Parliament to form a response to the official consultation. We’ll be drawing on all the interviews and engagement we’ve held over the past two years to outline not only that case for multi-year funding, but importantly how that should be delivered. Static, rigid, and project or service only funding that’s washed down with late decision making and untimely payments cannot be the new face of multi-year funding, where all that’s changed is the length of agreements.   

What you can do 

Submitting a response is worth your time, but we cannot forget that a major reason for why we need to see change is many organisations’ limited capacity and time to engage in strategy and policy development. There are several things that any organisation can do: 

  1. You can respond directly to the consultation. If you’re already planning on doing so, please let us know and share your response (and URL) with us. We can then see how your submission might enhance that of SCVO.   
  1. You candownload and customise our part-filled template response to support SCVO’s calls and to add specific information about the impact of the annual funding cycle on your organisation and why government must invest for the long-term.  
  1. You can share your thoughts anonymously using our short form if you cannot put your head above the parapet, which is entirely reasonable. Your needs and concerns shouldn’t be missed out and will be reflected in our submission.   

Many organisations stay away from consultations because they feel they do not have the policy skills inhouse to make a proper contribution. Option 2 is our way of ensuring that managers, business support officers, finance teams, senior leaders, or any other individual with a solid insight into an organisation’s funding arrangements feel able to share why and how multi-year funding can work for you. 

Just a couple of paragraphs about your experience with single-year funding, and what multi-year fund needs to look like to give you greater financial and planning certainty, will go a long way. For those wanting to add a line to support SCVO’s submission, we will be posting a final version on our website no later than 22 March.