Sector closes in on three year funding

Budget

Knock-on effect as government changes how it funds local authorities 

1st February 2019 by Robert Armour 0 Comments

Three year funding for Scotland’s third sector is a step closer after the Scottish Government announced changes to local authority funding.

In yesterday’s budget debate in Holyrood, ministers committed to funding Scotland’s 32 councils in three year cycles after a deal was struck with the Greens to vote the measures through.

It means local authorities will have to commit to longer-term funding deals for third sector groups – a huge boost as Brexit’s impact on European cash is creating widespread uncertainty within the sector.

Ministers said they would work with Cosla on the three year budget strategy, aiming to introduce it in 2020.

Anna Fowlie, chief executive of the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO), praised the announcement as political instability “hangs over the whole UK.”

She added that the passage of the budget removes the threat of a snap Scottish election, allowing the third sector to have an element of certainty about its future.

She said: "We are particularly pleased by commitments to introduce three year funding cycles for local authorities and we expect this to have a knock-on effect for charities. With councils given greater certainty about their own funding we are confident they will now, in turn, be well placed to strike longer term funding deals with the sector. 

“For too long, organisations have been living hand to mouth on annual funding agreements and we have all seen the effect sudden withdrawal of support can have on both organisations and the communities they support.”

Finance secretary Derek Mackay introduced the budget in December but only now is it being voted through.

Mackay won the vote after concessions to the Greens who demanded more core funding for councils and extra powers for them to levy local parking and tourist taxes.

The stage one vote passed by 67 votes to 58, with one MSP abstaining.

Friends of the Earth Scotland’s air pollution campaigner Gavin Thomson said taxing car parking spaces at work and offices, a proposal contained in the budget and another concession to the Greens, would encourage the public to use other forms of transport.

“In most Scottish cities, a large proportion of people don’t have access to a car. Public transport users are disproportionately lower paid workers or those seeking employment, so finding funding mechanisms that improve the availability and accessibility of public transport begins to address the fundamental unfairness of our current transport system.”

Council umbrella body Cosla said it "welcomes that local government's voice is being heard."