The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations estimates that the third sector contributed more than £5.5 billion to the Scottish economy in 2016-17. The sector employs more than 107,000 people. In addition, the value of formal volunteering is estimated to be around £2.2 billion per year.
Given the third sector’s significant value to the Scottish economy, which the minister has just noted, how is investment in the third sector evaluated? Does she agree that further investment in the third sector would be cost effective and would further benefit the Scottish economy?
I agree that we need to support and fund the third sector, and the Scottish Government is already doing that—the budget for the third sector in 2019-20 has been set at £24.9 million. New investment is necessary because of the great work that the third sector does in tackling poverty and mitigating United Kingdom Government welfare changes, which has been particularly important over the past few years.
We will continue to invest in the third sector, we will continue to commit to providing multiyear funding and we will continue to invest in the investing in communities fund. We will do that because of the growing inequality, which, of course, tax cuts at the top do nothing to address.