Earlier this month on the one-year anniversary of Liz Truss beginning her short, ill-fated stint as Leader of the Conservative Party and UK Prime Minister, the First Minister of Scotland Humza Yousaf MSP, outlined his first Programme for Government (PfG).
The PfG is an annual event, which each September, shares the actions that the Scottish Government will take over the next year to achieve their ambitions. This year we were treated to a sneak peek of what was likely to be included when the Scottish Government’s policy prospectus, New leadership - A fresh start, was released in April.
Both documents shared the Scottish Government’s “three missions”, each of which overlaps significantly with the work of voluntary sector in Scotland:
Despite this overlap, the response from the sector was somewhat lukewarm.
Our sector provides practical and emotional lifelines for people and communities, supports people on their journey out of poverty, highlights the causes of poverty, and shares solutions. We employ 5% of Scotland’s workforce, support people to be economically active, work with 1.2 million volunteers, and undertake vital environmental and medical research. Our sector is also a vital part of Scotland’s public service infrastructure, providing a range of essential public services.
We appreciate it is not possible to recognise the full scale of the sector’s vast and essential contribution to Scotland’s people, communities, society, and economy in one 60 page document. It is possible, however, to recognise that without the sector the Scottish Government’s aspirations are simply unattainable. This year, as in previous years, the opportunity to recognise and support the sector’s contribution was largely missed.
Nine months on from the Scottish Government committing to Fairer Funding for the voluntary sector in the Scottish Budget, the PfG commits to progress:
“Fairer Funding arrangements, including exploring options to implement multi-year funding deals, enabling the third sector to secure the resilience and capacity it needs to support the transformation and delivery of person centred services for Scotland’s people and support our thriving social enterprise economy”.
We must move more quickly. It is widely recognised that the pandemic, inflation, and the resulting cost-of-living and running cost crises have strained sector finances and increased demand for the support and services of many organisations.
The cost-of-living crisis brings many challenges, these challenges disproportionately impact the most vulnerable in society, many of whom rely on voluntary sector services. In the Third Sector Tracker 92% of respondents working directly with the public highlighted worsening emerging needs. Action is urgently needed to create the funding security essential for a sustainable voluntary sector which can support people through the cost-of-living crisis, offer Fair Work, and deliver quality outcomes.
As a result of these pressures, this year the Poverty Alliance’s Challenge Poverty Week policy asks echo SCVO’s calls for Fair Funding to support organisations that are often at the frontline of efforts to challenge poverty in Scotland.
We hope you will join us to hear about the difference a long-term, flexible, sustainable, and accessible approach to voluntary sector funding could make to the sector, our staff, volunteers and the communities we work with. Together let’s make Fair Funding a reality for the voluntary sector in Scotland.
More on Fair Funding for the voluntary sector: