As we look to restrictions lifting this summer, much talk has rightly been on rebuilding the economy. Yet a quick look at Scottish Government’s new Council for Economic Transformation shows the Scottish voluntary sector is often being overlooked in these conversations. Our policy team at SCVO is aiming to change that. We believe that to create a better society after the pandemic, the voluntary sector’s economic contribution must be recognised and be supported sustainably.
Voluntary sector and the economy
So just how big an impact does the voluntary sector make? For a start, it employs well beyond 100,000+ people, with over £6 billion in annual turnover. Around 1.4 million volunteers do an incredible job to support people across Scotland to live a fulfilled life.
As our recent briefing highlighted, this goes far beyond numbers, with many economic ideas and policies being created and shaped by voluntary organisations. The shift towards a Wellbeing Economy is a great example of this and exactly why the sector must be involved meaningfully.
Covid-19 and the economy
As elsewhere, the voluntary sector has faced great economic challenges during the Covid-19 pandemic. In response, and working alongside others, SCVO has helped manage the Scottish Government’s emergency funding. This has been a collective SCVO action, with colleagues from a range of teams working together to face an exceptional situation.
Alongside many of our members, we put our arguments to the Advisory Group on Economic Recovery and the Social Renewal Advisory Board. We contributed to the Law Family Commission’s call for evidence on the future of civil society and are engaging with Pro-Bono Economics on better understanding the economic value of the sector in Scotland. As always, we will continue to shout from the rooftops about the economic case for the sector as Scotland recovers from the pandemic.
As the pandemic shifts the funding landscape significantly, we want your help to maximise the sector’s influence. We have been hearing from intermediaries of key funding challenges as the Scottish Government budget looms large on the horizon. If you’re interested in the Finance and Public Administration Committee pre-budget scrutiny then please join our thought sharing meeting on 10 August.
Soon after is the 27 August deadline for the call for views on the Scottish Government’s new Council for Economic Transformation and we are keen to hear your thinking. As these questions of recovery play out, we will be working on a thought leadership series to bring wider economic perspectives to the table.
Sector experiences of procurement during the pandemic have varied significantly, but, as our response to the Economy Committee in January 2021 made clear, we believe comprehensive reform is needed, replacing competitive tendering with greater collaboration. In a few months’ time we will be hosting an event highlighting good practice and exploring how greater cross-sector partnership working can deliver on sector funding, fair work and a human rights-based approach. More information to come soon.
Alongside this, there is a long list of new and changing funding streams to get your head around, including the Levelling Up Funds, developments with Dormant Assets and Gift Aid, and the establishment of a post-Brexit UK Shared Prosperity Fund. On the back of the Internal Market Bill, and questions raised around devolved versus reserved competencies, this whole situation becomes even trickier to navigate. We will continue to do all we can to make sure the sector is well informed and well positioned on all current and future funding developments.
Get in touch
Key to all of this, of course, is sector engagement to shape and inform our work. We are currently conducting research with over 50 charities around their current experiences of funding, alongside other research projects to understand the issues as the we emerge from the pandemic. We are eager to hear your thoughts on our economic work, which you can find out more about here. For this and any questions please feel free to contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org