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Supporting Scotland's vibrant voluntary sector

Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations is the membership organisation for Scotland's charities, voluntary organisations and social enterprises. Charity registered in Scotland SC003558. Registered office Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh EH3 6BB.

General election must deliver for voluntary sector

So far, the issues raised by candidates and the public in the General Election campaign have nearly all been on issues that are the responsibility of Holyrood or councils, not Westminster. It’s understandable because what feels most important to people are the issues that they come across all the time – the NHS, education, potholes. But that masks some significant things that are decided at Westminster, impact significantly in Scotland and merit proper debate.  

That’s why SCVO wholeheartedly supports NCVO’s manifesto, published last week, which sets a new vision for society, and is full of policies that would deliver benefits for the voluntary sector, including here in Scotland.  

It’s also why I have written to party leaders specifically on reserved matters. Whoever forms the next UK Government, we must see a commitment to humane politics that puts people and communities first. We need to hear from party leaders how they will do that. 

Charities, community organisations and faith groups across Scotland deal with the consequences of the UK Government’s approach to immigration, social security, employment and the economy on a daily basis. People living in poverty rely on advice services, are more likely to become homelessness, need social housing, social care and mental health services; they depend on food banks, and are more likely to be involved in the justice system. People fleeing danger, whether that’s abroad or through domestic abuse, need sanctuary. It’s voluntary organisations they turn to for all of those and more.  

And so we see demand across the sector ramping up. At the same time, we see already precarious income becoming even more hard to come by. The cost-of-living crisis has seen a drop in public donations of money and of time, and we see cash-strapped public services offering less or shorter-term grant funding while cuts to public services result in more demands on voluntary organisations. Yet both charities and the public sector spend millions every year mitigating the harm done by “the system”. That makes no financial or moral sense to me. 

Our sector holds a wealth of experience in addressing major societal issues and is more trusted by the public than either the state or the private sector. The knowledge we hold should be seen as an asset to be included in policy and practice design from the outset. 

The approach an incoming Westminster administration takes to employment law, the benefits system, immigration and economic strategy fundamentally impacts across our sector and all of those things need to change dramatically from what we’ve seen over decades to benefit all of our society. My letter sets out specifics that I believe should be prioritised. 

Last modified on 12 June 2024