After the election: third sector must seize its chance

Holyrood

​After the election, opportunities for the third sector must be seized - and promises must be made good.

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6th May 2016 by Graham Martin 0 Comments

The election of a new Scottish Government should mark the opportunity to empower communities from the bottom up, a third sector leader said.

With the Scottish National Party failing to gain an overall majority, and potentially relying on an enlarged Green presence at Holyrood, political space could open up which would allow for a more radical approach to policy making.

Martin Sime, chief executive of the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO), said gaps could now appear which the third sector could fill.

He said: “Following what many thought an election campaign which lacked sparkle, our new politicians now need to apply themselves to making a real difference where it matters.  

The third sector will hope for a renewed effort to develop the capacity of people and communities to help each other. Top down solutions won’t work

“Many in the third sector will hope for a renewed effort to reform public services through prevention and serious investment to develop the capacity of people and communities to help each other. More top down solutions won’t work.”

Meanwhile, the sector has been reacting to the election result. Friends Of The Earth Scotland, perhaps with an eye towards the performance of the Greens, used the opportunity to hold the SNP to account for environmental pledges it has made.

Director Dr Richard Dixon said: “The SNP has been elected on a manifesto position of profound scepticism about fracking and voters will expect them to follow through by banning fracking and all forms of unconventional fossil fuels.  With Labour, the Lib Dems and Greens all standing on a platform to ban fracking, we look forward to strong cross party co-operation on all forms of unconventional fossil fuels.

“Also, the SNP promised ahead of the elections to increase Scotland’s 2020 climate target from 42% to more than 50%. A key early priority for the new government, and indeed the whole parliament, is the SNP’s commitment to a new Climate Act.  This should build upon the success of the 2009 Climate Act but include more ambitious action on transport, farming and rapidly transitioning away from our dependence on North Sea oil and gas.

“The next Parliament promises to be an encouraging period for community ownership of renewables with the targets for community and locally-owned renewables doubling to 1GW by 2020 and to 2GW by 2030. There is also a pledge to ensure that over half of consented renewable projects will have shared ownership that will see even more communities benefitting from the renewable energy revolution. 

"These innovative schemes mean that more people will have a say in the running of local renewables projects and that a greater share of the financial returns will also stay in their area.”

The Scottish Federation of Housing Associations said all parties promised in the election campaign to build more affordable housing – and now they must deliver on that.

Mary Taylor, chief executive, said: “Commitments to increasing the amount of affordable housing, introducing extra energy efficiency measures to fight fuel poverty and using the new welfare powers to, amongst other measures, abolish the bedroom tax are supported across the Scottish Parliament.

“It is vital that these pledges are realised over the lifetime of the next parliament in order for everyone in Scotland to have a warm, energy efficient, affordable home and to improve the life chances, health and wellbeing of some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in Scotland.

“Together with our members, we stand ready to assist government and parliament in realising these commitments.”

Meanwhile, the Scottish Children’s Services Coalition called on the new SNP administration to “deliver on its ambitions to close the educational attainment gap and deliver a more equal society.”

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