December 18, 2015 : Jenny Bloomfield

Scottish budget highlights for the third sector

Let me take you on a tour of some of the main points of interest for the third sector in the Scottish Government’s draft budget for 2016/17
I’m sure that more will come out in the weeks ahead as everyone digs a little deeper into the fine detail, but for now the headline for the third sector is that core funding has remained at the same rate in cash terms as this year, as has funding for its regulator, OSCR.

The news that Non-Domestic Rates will be reviewed is definitely worth taking note of, although we don’t yet know what this will mean for the third sector.

Local government has been cut by 7% in real terms. Whatever you think of local government, the fear is that this will lead to cuts for our own sector (given that many of us receive funding from councils) too. It will also increase pressure on our sector as we try to fill in the inevitable gaps that arise from council services being reduced.

It will increase pressure on our sector as we try to fill in the inevitable gaps that arise from council services being reduced

In terms of social security, the Scottish Government will continue to plug the gaps created by the UK’s ‘bedroom tax’ and its cut to Council Tax Reduction. Access to free childcare will also be increased.

Interestingly, Mr Swinney spoke a lot about a need to move towards prevention, and invoked the Christie Commission in his speech. He plans to increase health spending by 4%, and also announced that £250 million of funding would be moved from the health budget to local government for funding of social care for health and social care integration.

The other big announcement was for affordable housing, which will see £90 million spent on it in the coming year as part of the SNP’s pledge to build more affordable homes. It’s worth noting though that the budget line for housing has not seen an increase of £90 million. The plans or projects which will be cut to pay for this increase is yet to be revealed.

Finally, some in the sector have raised concerns about possible cuts to fuel poverty and energy efficiency, and again there was significantly more announced for road building rather than sustainable transport projects.

To sums things up, it’s a relief to see that there hasn’t been a direct hit on the third sector, but the repercussions of the cuts to local government will be felt widely.

 

 

Important: Opinions expressed by bloggers are their own and don't represent those of the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations.

by Jenny Bloomfield