DInC Forum Meeting
Monday 9th June 2008, 12.30
Big Lottery Fund Offices, Atlantic Quay, Glasgow
Peter McNamara, YouthLink Scotland PM
Laurie Russell, Wise Group, SSEC LR
Shonaig Macpherson (chair) SM
Bill Howat, VDS Board BH
Helen Tyrrell, Voluntary Health Scotland, SCVO HT
Alison Magee, Big Lottery Fund AM
Dharmendra Kanani, Big Lottery Fund DK
Alastair Jackson, Big Lottery Fund (minutes) AJ
Karen Fitzsimmons, Big Lottery Fund KF
1. Welcome & Introductions
SM welcomed the group to the inaugural meeting of the Dynamic Inclusive Communities Forum. All present were then invited to introduce themselves to the group, as follows:
Shonaig Macpherson; has a background in law, and is currently chair of The National Trust for Scotland, The Princes Trust Scotland and Princes Scottish Youth Business Trust, as well as being a trustee of the Robertson Trust.
Cllr. Peter McNamara; is Chair for Communities with North Ayrshire Council, and Chair of YouthLink Scotland.
Laurie Russell; is Chief Executive of the WISE Group, Chair of the Scottish Social Enterprise Coalition, and previously spent 17 years as Chief Executive of the public sector company that managed the European Structural Funds Programmes in the west of Scotland.
Bill Howat; is chair of Volunteer Development Scotland, and was formerly a Scottish Office civil servant and Chief Executive of Comhairle Nan Eilean Siar.
Helen Tyrell; is Vice-Convenor for the SCVO management board, and is Director of Voluntary Health Scotland
It was also noted that a variety of other organisations had been invited to send a representative to this meeting, as per the Terms of Reference in the meeting papers, however several representatives sent their apologies. It was noted that COSLA is in the process of confirming its representative and intends to participate fully in the work of the Forum.
2. Forum Terms of Reference
SM elaborated on the purpose of the group, stating that it was here in an advisory capacity to SCVO, Big Lottery Fund (BIG) and the Scottish Government. The importance of inviting Scottish Government representation to further meetings was also noted, as was the possibility that this Forum could serve to encourage better work between local authorities and the voluntary sector.
Members welcomed the Terms of Reference noting that it would be important to have these as a standing item on the agenda in order to measure and reflect on progress being made.
It was suggested that it might be useful to involve participants from the housing association movement and the private sector in future discussions. Members were requested to identify representatives from either of these sectors to participate at future meetings however it was agreed that this should be considered at the next meeting when there is wider attendance.
Action: Members to recommend suitable representatives from either the housing association movement and the private sector
3. Update on Supporting Voluntary Action (SVA)
DK introduced the £10m SVA funding programme that BIG have established with SCVO through the ‘Dynamic Inclusive Communities’ investment area. The 4 year programme aims to harness the power of, and improve, the CVS (Council for Voluntary Service) network, creating a high quality business model providing quality assured services with a widely recognised brand. The overarching outcome is to improve the conditions for voluntary action and the quality of this network in its delivery.
DK pointed to the fact that this programme involved a major change management exercise which required building trust amongst and between CVSs and SCVO and in the past 6 months this relationship has improved considerably leading to better results. It is evident now that the driving force behind SVA is its management group, which consists of representatives from COSLA, Scottish Government, CVSs and SCVO. Last October the BIG Scotland Committee assessed the strength of SVA before releasing further funds, categorising aspects of the project into ‘green-light’, ‘amber-light’ and ‘red-light’. More recently the Scotland Committee received an update progress report on delivery to date and agreed that the aspects falling into the second category should be approved for funding.
HT pointed out that this project was taking place against the background of huge policy change, as well as the final stages of central government funding for CVSs. She emphasised that this programme must impact on voluntary sector users, and should focus on strengthening the links between national and local bodies.
A query was raised in the group as to what feedback loop exists between communities/users and the SVA group. DK responded that so far getting the SVA partners to work well together has taken priority – particularly building trust between CVSs and SCVO.
DK then outlined to the group what the SVA grant money is being spent on. SVA aims to enable a network with a commonality of brand and ideas and uniform level of quality assurance. The network should also reflect need at a local level, as well as increasing connectivity across the sector as a whole.
The group felt it would be helpful to expand DK’s point into an agenda item for the next meeting to get a ‘feel’ of how SVA works and what it does in practice.
Action: DK to circulate a paper on the projects underpinning the delivery of SVA to be presented at the next meeting
4. Update on other DInC initiatives
KF introduced the group to the projects that had been funded via the DInC investment area, and to the applications that had been submitted via the responsive strand following feedback (in time to meet the 31st of May deadline for applications). The total amount of funding requested by these projects is over £17m. With only £7m left in the budget to fund DInC projects this will lead to a competitive environment when these projects are put forward to Committee for approval. The Scotland Committee will make decisions on the responsive strand of this fund in September 2008.
A question was raised by the group as to whether best practice from geographically specific projects could be spread more widely at a national level. KF and DK responded that whilst most projects funded through DInC had been pitched at a national level, BIG has asked for learning to be shared by any community level projects. Also, BIG has encouraged communication and connections between projects in the responsive strand of DInC, as well as signposting similar or like-minded organisations to each other across the other investment areas.
The group then discussed further what would be expected from this forum. It was suggested that this group should provide a high level contribution – providing strategic overview of the needs in the sector and among networks. Also, to offer a view on both gaps and opportunities where lottery money could add most value in the context of this funding and in this respect provide guidance and advice to the Scotland Committee
The point was also raised of how this area of funding would fit in with the Government’s Social Investment Fund, but it was agreed that this could be discussed further when the fuller details of this fund were announced.
5. Commissioning the Mapping Exercise
It was agreed that the infrastructure of the voluntary sector in Scotland requires mapping.
However, it was also pointed out that there are aspects of the CVS and volunteering network that would be hard to map on any criteria other than perception. Furthermore, some of the group felt that it would be useful to map the ability of organisations to deliver good quality projects, as this would allow funders to look beyond an application and see if it is likely to lead to a strong project.
A mapping project could also highlight the gaps that SVA/DInC and other projects should aim to fill.
Another issue highlighted to the group was that the mapping project would be delivered against a shifting background because of the changes in the sector relating to the local government concordat and the introduction of Single Outcome Agreements (SOAs). The group noted that there is currently a level of uncertainty in the sector that current government funding will continue, and that there is a danger that BIG funding could be seen as a substitute for any central funding that is lost in the implementation of SOAs and the concordat.
DK informed the group that the Scotland Funders’ Forum will be keeping SOAs and the Concordat as a standard agenda item for this year and that this information can be shared in turn with the DInC Forum.
Action: Circulate presentations to Funders’ Forum from Jon Harris (COSLA) and Geoff Pearson (Scottish Government) to on SOA and Concordat (AJ)
Concerns were then raised that varying funding levels from the government could lead to competition for funding with the Third Sector. Furthermore, the procurement and delivery practices put in place by a public body or local authority could lead to conditions that were either favourable or unfavourable to the involvement of Third Sector enterprises. It was noted that there is an absence of a single piece of guidance providing support both to the Third Sector on engaging with procurement exercises and for public bodies to enable them to think about enabling and levelling the playing field for the Third Sector to compete effectively for contracts in procurement exercises in Scotland.
It was also noted that there has to be a market to allow Third Sector enterprises to provide services, and that social return on investment should be promoted.
It was generally agreed that an individual from a small-scale consultancy would be preferable to carry out the mapping project, as this arrangement would hopefully ensure a degree of objectivity and a quicker turn-around time. It was also agreed that the project should consist of 2 stages – an initial higher-level report to the forum, then a more detailed map following their consultation and feedback. The mapping exercise could be both descriptive and comparative – contrasting the amount of volunteering in an area with other local demographic information such as health and crime statistics.
This process could be ongoing – perhaps an annual exercise – and could work as a progress report for the group.
6. Future Meetings
It was agreed that the forum should meet quarterly until the mapping project is completed, and that the next meetings should take place in mid-late September and late January. A provisional date of the 17th of September was noted for the group’s next meeting, and all agreed that Glasgow was a suitable location.
7. Other Business Arising
Action: AJ to set up email group for the Forum
It was also agreed that agenda for the next meeting should include:
– An update on the mapping exercise
– Presentations from Geoff Pearson and Jon Harris on the Concordat and Single Outcome Agreements
– A progress report on SVA
– An update on the Terms of Reference.
– Appointment of additional Forum Members