Letter from Scottish Government on Third Sector Interfaces

Third Sector Interfaces
Chairs and Chief Executives of Councils for Voluntary Service
Chairs and Chief Executives of Volunteer Centres
Chairs of Local Social Economy Partnerships
Chairs and CPP Managers of Community Planning Partnerships

30 July 2010

Dear Colleague


1. As a result of much hard work by many people across Scotland we are close to completing the establishment of third sector interfaces.  In this letter I propose new arrangements for the management of interfaces, from April 2011 some which require action now.  I also remind boards of councils of voluntary service, volunteer centres, local social economy partnerships and social enterprise networks that our funding of these organisations will end on 31 March 2010.  The ending of these grants requires preparation by board members to ensure their obligations as company directors are met.
Future Funding

2. The Scottish Compact requires that we give grant recipients 3 month’s notice of the ending of grants.  We will issue a final letter to all CsVS, VCs, LSEPs and SENs, no later than end December this year, to give such formal notice.  At the same time, subject to the Scottish Government’s spending decisions for 2011-14, we plan to issue grant offers to the interfaces which will be delivering the suite of services set out in paragraph 6 below.  From 1 April 2011, there will be no grants under this programme other than for interfaces.

3. Having consulted Voluntary Action Scotland (VAS), we propose that our offers of grant to interfaces shall include conditions of grant covering the issues discussed below.

4. The Interface shall submit a clear description of its governance and management arrangements.  Where the interface is in a form other than a single agency it would be expected that lines of accountability for service delivery and expenditure of interface grant are clearly articulated.  We would wish to see an explicit description of, for example, how delivery of the delivery framework will be managed, the names of the responsible board members, the legal structure and arrangements for accounting for funding.  In particular, companies within partnerships will wish to consider the impact of company law which limits the capacity of one company to control another – formal agreements will be needed in these circumstances.
Delivery Framework

5. It is for the interface to decide how to deliver its services.  However, we  will require that the interface prepare a single delivery framework, to cover at least the four primary interface functions in 2011-12, and indicate its plans for the rest of the Spending Period. 

6. This document is intended to be an overview extending to no more than say 3 pages describing in broad terms how the interface plans to ensure that outcomes are delivered across the whole local authority area in each of the following areas:
• volunteering development
• social enterprise development
• supporting and developing a strong third sector
• building the third sector relationship with community planning

7. The delivery framework must be discussed with the community planning partnership (CPP) although no formal sign-off by the CPP is required, although its endorsement would be a strong indicator of the strength of the relationship established between the interface and the CPP.

8. We are having discussions with VAS about a suggested template and guidance which would support the development of a single delivery framework.

9. Whilst recognising that the financial allocation for the interface programme is unlikely to be known before late November, we ask that the delivery framework indicate, in proportional terms, the balance of funding between the four main activities of the interface. 

10. The single delivery framework must be with the Third Sector Division by 1 November 2010 to guide the preparation of grant offers.
Quality Framework

11. We will require that all interfaces adopt the EFQM process to ensure high standards of management, given that a core function is advice to other third sector bodies.  A quality framework is both good business practice and a measure of protection for Boards and staff.  A version of EFQM tailored to the needs of interfaces has been developed within the Supporting Voluntary Action (SVA) programme and it is this version we expect to be used.
The Managing Intelligence National IT Platform

12. We will expect (but not at this stage require) participation in the new national IT platform emerging from the SVA Managing Intelligence programme as soon as it is available.  We expect to make participation mandatory within one year of the system being fully operational.
Reporting and Monitoring

13. Although the Scottish Government funding is important to the success of interfaces, in some areas it is not the primary funding for the work and reporting to us should not be a disproportionate burden for the interface.  I suggested in my letter of 2 February 2009 that each interface report to its community using Turning the Tables principles.  These principles have been further examined in the recent report to the Scotland Funders’ Forum by Evaluation Support Scotland from the Harmonising Reporting Working Group.  We are in discussion with VAS on a systematic approach to this.
Networks and Support

14. We have asked VAS to consider the support services which interfaces may require and VAS is considering how to provide peer networking.  Once the total programme budget for interfaces is known, we will seek advice from VAS as to the amounts which should be allocated within that budget to fund such networking and services.

15. In this preparatory period we need a single contact point for each interface – so we can create a mailing list and other systems such as those we use for payments.  Please send a note of your interface name, postal address, email, telephone and a named individual for initial contact.  In due course we will be asking for fuller information about the interface structure in order to set up the financial arrangements.
16. If you wish to discuss any aspect of this letter please contact me, or in my absence during August, Laura Sexton (0131 244 5461).