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The Scottish Government’s draft budget includes investment of £24.6 million for the third sector in 2020-21. That will enable us to continue to work in partnership to deliver on Scotland’s national performance framework.
The third sector budget represents just one aspect of overall spend on the third sector from across Scottish Government portfolios. For example, the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations has estimated that, in 2018, the income to the third sector from the Government was £472 million, which represents 7.9 per cent of its total income.
The third sector is not only a crucial part of our social and economic infrastructure; it has a key role to play in the reform of our public services—without them, we would not be able to innovate, adapt and maintain our drive to tackle deep-rooted social challenges in the way that we are doing.
Given the involvement of, and reliance on, the voluntary and third sectors, especially in criminal justice work, does the cabinet secretary agree with Apex Scotland that the annual budget process for justice-related third sector organisations is “extremely wasteful and inefficient” and that, as a priority, it should be replaced with—at the very least—a more sustainable and effective minimum of three-year funding, which would encourage preventative spend?
I think that everyone agrees that the ideal situation would be to provide three-year budgets and to indicate that length of commitment to organisations that continue to do great work, for which the sector is rightly credited.
However, it does not help that we have a yearly budget, particularly when that budget has been delayed. Indeed, the third sector has made a big plea in that regard, given the uncertainty over the delay to the United Kingdom budget. In addition to that, we have no clarity from the UK Government about the shared prosperity fund. We have continued austerity, and we are continually having to mop up the pieces left by the UK Government.
Again, on a point of principle, we are always willing to work with other parties. The fundamental challenge is that, when we get a budget of only one year, that has a knock-on impact on the programmes and the operations that we try to fund.
We will continue to engage with Margaret Mitchell. However, one of the big points of concern that the third sector has raised with me is the delay to the UK budget.
This morning, I received an email from Kingdom Off Road Motorcycle Club. I understand that the transition from the community jobs Scotland programme to the no-one left behind model, which is due to start in April 2021, appears to be creating a funding gap. I understand that offers of grants have been withdrawn. Will the cabinet secretary investigate that?
I w ill happily meet Claire Baker.
In my answer to Margaret Mitchell, I noted that the third sector budget that sits in my portfolio is only a small part of the overall funding that comes from Government. Indeed, on income, the SCVO noted that the third sector has benefited from £472 million-worth of funding, from across different portfolios.
I will endeavour to meet Claire Baker to talk about that issue—because the funding to which she referred may sit in another part of Government—so that she can get clarity and the organisation that she mentioned can get the support that it may require.