“Like others across the third sector, the TSI Scotland Network is taking time to analyse the Scottish Budget, to understand what it means for us, for the community and voluntary organisations we work with, for the people and families we stand with in these difficult times.
We welcome a commitment on multi-year funding linked to employability, and ask if this approach can be extended to other policy areas. However, we remain concerned about what the Budget means for secure funding for the third sector; for Fair Work, employment security and reduced participation and widening inequalities in volunteering.
Some of the most obvious funding reductions may affect the sector’s capacity and ability to respond to emergencies, to deliver important local services at a time when they are needed more than ever. We have heard warm words from Government about the third sector’s contribution to the economy and society – yet this barely featured in the Budget.
More broadly, we share the concerns of others about the effects of the Budget on poverty and equality and crucial safety nets e.g. the Fuel Insecurity Fund and the Scottish Welfare Fund. Any reductions here will undoubtedly lead to more people in real crisis turning to local charities and community groups. Any changes to budget lines linked to rural and island areas could make life harder for areas already facing challenges linked to depopulation, transport and climate change.
The lack of any real detail on social care could lead to further pressure on local organisations working with disabled and older people and unpaid carers. The £12 per hour commitment on social care and childcare pay is important, but no new action to ensure pay fully reflects the critical nature of this work is disappointing. As Health Boards call on families and communities to do more during another difficult winter, the impact of national decisions on important community infrastructure could actually lead to increased demand on health and care services.
There was no mention of volunteering or social enterprises; numbers coming forward to volunteer have dropped and this is a real concern for the TSI Scotland Network. There must be a commitment to properly fund community voluntary involvement and volunteering organisations who together provide lifeline support to people across Scotland.
We understand that were no easy decisions for the Scottish Government here, but the third sector will be affected by the choices made. Without fair and secure funding, charities, community groups and volunteering organisations cannot continue to do more for less.
We’ve already asked for a third sector meeting with the First Minster and Cabinet in our Budget briefing and make that call again with urgency. The third sector has stepped up time and time again, and we need to find a way through the current difficulties we are all facing. But our sector needs security, value and respect if we are to continue responding to families and communities in need.”
The TSI Scotland Network is a group of local organisations which exists to support charities, community groups, volunteering organisations and social enterprises across Scotland. This work is relevant to many Scottish Government policy areas and our links with community groups across Scotland mean that we share the Government’s commitments to Equality, Community and Opportunity. Work such as the administration of the Scottish Government Communities Mental Health and Wellbeing Fund, welcoming refugees, delivery of local support during the COVID pandemic and throughout the Cost of Living crisis highlights the critical importance of local, voluntary sector organisations and TSIs. Find out more about TSIs and the significant contribution of Scotland’s voluntary sector here.