Nicola Sturgeon: the SNP’s pledges to the third sector

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SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon writes for TFN

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5th June 2017 by TFN Guest 0 Comments

On 8 June Scotland faces a choice over its future and on the kind of country we wish to build.

A choice between an unopposed Tory government that will extend its austerity agenda to Scotland's businesses, key industries, to jobs and livelihoods and to the third sector – or an effective SNP opposition holding Theresa May to account over her policies that will target the most vulnerable in our society.

With statistics showing that over one million Scots now live in poverty it is clear now more than ever that Scotland needs a strong voice that will challenge the Tories over their shameful record and their deep and damaging cuts to welfare and other key services.

Since 2013, the SNP Scottish Government has spent nearly £400 million in an effort to alleviate Tory cuts to household incomes. That figure is a damning indictment of the Tories attitude to pursuing an austerity agenda at any cost and to the extent to which the Scottish Government has been forced to clean up the Tories’ mess.

Nicola Sturgeon

Nicola Sturgeon

Scotland's third sector organisations are on the frontline when it comes to witnessing the direct impact of policies

With £152m spent on the Scottish Welfare Fund and £125m on Discretionary Housing Payments over the four year period, it is yet another example where the SNP's and UK government’s priorities differ – while the Tories cut funding to those who need it most, the SNP is determined to help the most vulnerable within our society.

That £400m has been spent merely mitigating the effects of the inhumane Tory welfare cuts, rather than being spent fighting the root causes of poverty in communities across Scotland.

Scotland's third sector organisations are on the frontline when it comes to witnessing the direct impact of policies and on identifying the challenges they face. That is why the ability of third sector organisations to hold government and authorities to account should never be restricted or impeded.

Whilst the SNP will support strict rules on lobbying and enhanced registration thresholds for campaigners, we will strongly oppose the restrictions on the activities of campaigning charities. We will push for those parts of the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Act 2014 which have been used to gag campaigning organisations to be removed.

Under the Tories we face the prospect of legitimate campaigning by charities and third sector organisations being curtailed, with groups being gagged and facing restrictions on their ability to inform and promote policies that can make a real difference to those they campaign for.

We will continue to champion the call for the full devolution of powers over welfare and social security to be able to fully address the serious challenges third sector organisations face. And if full powers are not devolved to the Scottish Government, then the threat from a Tory government remains very real.

It has become clear over the course of the general election campaign that this is a two horse race between the progressive voice for Scotland with the SNP or the regressive policies of the Tory party intent on inflicting an austerity-max agenda that will further extend the challenges facing the third sector and hit many more families.

The SNP manifesto for the general election sets out how the SNP can protect Scotland and build a fairer society.

A manifesto that sets out a clear anti-austerity agenda that would bring an end to unnecessary Tory cuts, tackle the projected rise in in-work poverty, boost equality and put Scotland in a position to protect jobs and living standards during the Brexit negotiations.

Since 2015 the SNP has stood firm against Tory cuts, now more than ever it is vital that we have strong SNP voices at Westminster standing up to the Tories so we can continue to make Scotland the best country it can be.

Nicola Sturgeon is leader of the Scottish National Party.

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