Fair Funding and Fair Work – Is it possible in the Third Sector

The Scottish Government has a clear commitment to becoming a Fair Work Nation and has guidance in place on what ‘fair work’ means with the key principles – effective voice, respect, opportunity, fulfilment and security.  For many voluntary organisations it is not as straight forward as it sounds, especially for those in the third sector and others who work across the arts, culture, health and wellbeing space.

At the end of 2022 the Scottish Government announced its intent to adopt fair funding principles in investing in the voluntary sector from 2023 onwards. Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations response paper Fair Funding for the Voluntary Sector focused on actions that the Scottish Government and other funders could take to ensure that funding arrangements with voluntary organisations are fair.

In August SCVO and TSI Scotland Network followed this up with a joint paper highlighting funding practices that can cause barriers in the sector and their wider impacts e.g. funding is often awarded for only one year at a time, making it very difficult to plan for the future; the value of contracts and grants rarely keeps pace with inflation; funding is more readily available for short term projects than ongoing core costs; the funding awarded does not always cover the full cost of a piece of work, such as organisational overheads ; decision making about funding can be slow, and payment of funds can be delayed, leaving third sector organisations uncertain about their future.

They put the case that Fair Work is central to a sustainable sector which can support staff and volunteers and deliver quality outcome but ask for changes to enable third sector organisations to become Fair Work employers, through funding, which is long term, flexible, sustainable, and accessible.

As part of The Programme for Government (PfG) outlined by First Minister Humza Yousaf, earlier this year, it was great to see the Government commit to developing a plan for Fairer Funding of the Scottish Third Sector, including greater clarity and consistency of existing arrangements and recognising the sector’s strategic role.

Anna Fowlie, Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations’ (SCVO) chief executive responded and while many of the priorities were welcomed across Scotland’s Third Sector, she said more must be done. ‘While the PfG recognises the contribution voluntary organisations make across different portfolios, it doesn’t move far or fast enough to address fundamental changes to the operating environment that would recognise the vital role of Scotland’s voluntary sector in delivering on government priorities. To secure the future of the invaluable work our sector delivers, we must not only address disappointing practice, but also implement the longer-term improvements that are so desperately needed.’

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