This should be the time of year when many of us have fun with the Scottish Government budget. How much has the third sector got? Is the money going into any exciting new funds? Which communities look set to benefit?
However, a delay to the budget has caused everyone to think a bit differently. The Scottish Parliament committees, which so often have considered only forward spend, are now assessing whether money spent in previous years has achieved positive results.
This is something that our setors knows plenty about. SCVO’s recent funding survey, the results of which should be out soon, showed just how many of you spend lots of time monitoring outcomes after receiving funds. So it’s good to see that the national budget is, for this year at least, receiving some of the same scrutiny from the Parliament’s committees.
Local Government and communities
One of those committees covers local government and communities. I’ve just been drafting SCVO’s response to the committee’s inquiry into the budget, which focuses on the reduction to local authority budgets in recent years. These have, of course, had impacts on our sector.
Interestingly though, since devolution, local authority budgets overall have stayed largely static on a like-for-like basis. The question is then, not just ‘do local authorities have enough money?’, but also ‘are local authorities spending money in the best way possible?’.
Public service reform
The notion of public service reform is of particular interest to our sector. The deputy First Minister, John Swinney, spoke about it at the recent SNP conference, not just in terms of education (his other brief), but also on the wider agenda of giving power to communities.
Any opportunity to increase how we work directly with communities would be welcome. And, while many in our sector are currently doing so, there’s always room for improvement. I can think of several charities that would be keen to work in closer partnership with local councils.