What is happening in Scotland?
This paper has been produced as part of the NCIA Inquiry into the Future of Voluntary Services. The Inquiry is specifically concerned with those voluntary and community organisations that deliver services in local communities, especially those that accept state money for these activities. These are the groups that have been particularly affected by successive New Labour and Coalition Government policies regarding the relationship between the voluntary and statutory sectors, and attitudes and intentions towards the future of public services. In this and other papers we refer to these as Voluntary Services Groups or VSGs.
It has long been NCIA’s contention that the co-optive nature of these relationships has been damaging to the principles and practise of independent voluntary action. The nature and scale of the Coalition Government’s political project – ideologically driven – to degrade rights, entitlements and social protections, and to privatise public services that cannot be abolished is now laid bare. This has created new imperatives for VSGs to remind themselves of their commitment to social justice and to position themselves so that they can once again be seen as champions of positive social, economic and environmental development.
Our Inquiry is a wide ranging attempt to document the failure of VSGs, and the so-called ‘leadership’ organisations that purport to represent them, to resist these shackles on their freedom of thought and action. But it is also an attempt to seek out the green shoots of a renaissance that will allow voluntary agencies to assert their independence and reconnect with the struggle for equality, social justice, enfranchisement and sustainability.
This paper is one of a number that has been produced through the Inquiry and presents a brief summary of how the concerns of this Inquiry are being played out in Scotland, with its different political and legal environment. It has been prepared for NCIA by Nicola Gunn to whom we offer grateful thanks.
See full Working Paper here