Funding for Third Sector Interfaces
The Scottish Government sent out an e-mail on Friday in connection with our core funding as interfaces. I copy the key paragraph below for convenience:
We had previously reported our ambition that new interface funding arrangements would be announced by 15 December. We now expect announcements about interface funding, including VAS and interface support being made in the new year. We are hopeful of receiving advice from VAS on the distribution of funding which will assist Ministers in their decisions.
I’m already aware of some people interpreting this e-mail in various ways and making some assumptions about what might or might not be happening. I am therefore keen to put across as much as we know about the situation.
VAS, as you know, has been asked to give its views on how the interface money should be allocated (i.e. a funding formula). We have conducted a survey and I attach the summary findings. We had some good discussion about it at the conference in October. We will send you an e-mail tomorrow in relation to the second part of the survey.
For clarity, the Scottish Government are not waiting to be told what to do by VAS. They are keen to hear our thoughts and will give them consideration when deciding how they wish to go forward. The funding formula determines the percentage allocation for each local authority area – it does not affect the Government budget, which must be set before interfaces can be told what they are likely to/going to receive from April 2011 onwards. The Government has not yet set its budget, so having a funding formula would not allow an earlier release of details of each interface’s core funding for 2011/12. The Government has acknowledged that the delay in making such an announcement has not been caused by VAS.
The Government now expect to make an announcement by mid-January. This isn’t great, but based on previous years’ experience this would be an improvement.
We also understand that the recommendation to Ministers on total funding for interfaces will be at a similar level to that currently made.
Across our network we have organisations and people with varying priorities and preferences, and we have local authority areas with multiple partners who can have differing views. Gathering these views into a cohesive voice is proving very challenging. We all know that if the allocation changes in any way that, unless the total budget is significantly higher, some areas will receive less money. People are keen that their area does not receive less money going forward. This is understandable. Inevitably, this means we cannot develop a funding formula which will enjoy support from the network of interfaces. The best we can do in the circumstances, is find as much common ground as possible and share it with Government.
The Government could decide on an approach without this information, but we’d prefer to gather the thoughts of interface colleagues and share this, seeking to influence the decision of Ministers.
The Scottish Government continue to listen to interfaces directly but it is likely to be the representative voice of VAS which carries most weight and I would ask colleagues to help to make our voice strong and get the best way forward for us all. For clarity, we always send out these communications and invites to surveys to all interfaces and interface partners we have contact details for – these are not restricted to VAS members. Thanks to those non-members and partner agencies, particularly social enterprise partners, for taking part thus far. We continue to listen to the views and concerns of interface colleagues, providing support where requested. Please do take part in our surveys, get in touch, invite us to your area to discuss your concerns and seek our support where you think that might be beneficial. We look forward to hearing from you.
Voluntary Action Scotland.