Voluntary sector raps grant rules
Scotland’s small voluntary and community organisations are facing a financial crisis unless the Scottish Executive reverses plans to radically alter the way it funds the sector, it was claimed last week.
The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) said it has received complaints from members over the new rules, issued by the Executive’s Voluntary Issues Unit. The changes will allow Executive departments to pay grants to groups in arrears and withdraw funding at six months’ notice.
An SCVO spokesman said the changes had been a ‘bolt from the blue’ and that a lot of SCVO’s members were ‘thinking twice about accepting grants from the Executive’ as a result. He claimed that the Executive had made the changes without any consultation with the voluntary sector.
In a letter sent to the Executive, seen by Regeneration & Renewal, SCVO chief executive Martin Sime says the conditions represent a ‘considerable shift’ from previous terms under which grants were offered.
The letter adds: ‘Since the new conditions have not been the subject of any consultation with the voluntary sector, the SCVO is now requesting that they be withdrawn. We cannot accept the imposition of significant changes in this way.’
The only grant offers that have gone out so far under the new guidelines are the Children, Young People and Families Unified Voluntary Sector Fund.
The SCVO spokesman said the Executive’s proposal to pay voluntary organisations in arrears would mean smaller groups would ‘need to come up with the cash first, before the Executive sends the money’.
He added: ‘This begins to question the financial viability of smaller groups.’
The Executive responded to the criticism in a letter to SCVO. It says the new measures are designed to place ‘no additional administrative or financial burden on grant recipient organisations’.
It adds: ‘Voluntary organisations will be able to negotiate the terms of particular conditions, such as the timing of grant payments, where they can demonstrate a need for instalments on specific dates.’
Source: Regeneration & Renewal magazine