SCVO long-term funding survey and roundtable report 2013

The Gathering 2018

Year of publication
SCVO (Ilse Mackinnon, Research & David McColgan, Policy)

Third Sector organisations across Scotland receive funding from right across the public sector, ranging from local authority departments to central government, through block grants, service level agreements and contracts commissioned or won through procurement exercises.

During a 2012 inquiry into improving employability, the Scottish Parliament’s Finance Committee noted that: “a key issue raised by third sector organisations in both the oral evidence and workshop sessions was the issue of annual funding and the resulting lack of security as to whether these organisations would be able to continue to provide their services.” During a further debate on 1 of May 2013, consensus was reached among politicians that, whilst anecdotal evidence and first hand experiences was of third sector organisations struggling on one-year funding agreements, greater clarification was required to back up the anecdotal evidence. Following the debate, the Scottish Government asked the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) and the Coalition of Care and Support Providers Scotland (CCPS) to conduct research across the third sector into the proliferation of three-year funding agreements.

This report will detail the findings of the survey and roundtable discussion that were undertaken to inform the debate on long-term funding. Whilst the survey and discussion are not conclusive, they are a very helpful first step to steer the debate and provide insight of the experiences of third sector organisations and their funding partners in the public sector.

It should be noted that the issue of long-term funding is not about more investment and more money. It should be about strategic investment and long-term support to ensure the delivery of better outcomes at local and national level and ensure that public spend is having the greatest possible social impact and leading to more sustainable public services across Scotland There is a mature debate developing in Scotland regarding parity for the third sector with private and public sectors. It’s a debate that requires strong voices to challenge doing things differently where the relationship is advantageous to our public sector and dangerous to the third sector.

Key findings

• One-year funding is still the norm for most organisations
• Three-quarters of grants and two-thirds of Service Level Agreements were for one year
• Only 7% of respondents said that their funding packages make provision for annual inflation
• A small number of respondents reported that their funding is now allocated over a longer period, and welcomed the increase in the award length
• However, several other respondents noted that while their local authority was looking at three-year funding, or had verbally committed to longer funding periods, this had not yet materialised
• The overwhelming majority of respondents (83%) said that they did not receive annual inflationary increases
• 52 organisations (21%) said that they had been asked to return money deemed as surplus
• Many who said that they had not been asked pointed out that this was because they never have any underspend, or because their grant is paid retrospectively