April 7, 2015 : Jenny Bloomfield

What matters to the third sector in #GE2015?

With party campaigning beginning in earnest and ahead of tonight’s Scottish leaders debate Jenny takes a look at our General Election survey results.

Tonight Scottish party leaders will gather for a TV debate.  If last week’s seven-party effort is anything to go by it will be hard for viewers to get answers on the important issues.  In this blog, I take a look at what things you told us matter to you and the third sector in this election.

Over the past month or so, SCVO has been running a survey asking what your top priorities are for the General Election. We asked what mattered personally and what mattered most for your organisation.

Unsurprisingly, in both categories the top concern was the voluntary sector! Other big issues on a personal level were the economy, health and communities – interesting considering that health and perhaps communities too are devolved. Maybe we’re aware of how Westminster decisions on devolved issues in England can affect what happens here both in terms of policy positions and budgets. Or perhaps we just don’t want to see the rest of the UK suffer a vastly cut NHS.

69% of you will vote the same way in 2016’s election as in May 2015’s

The inclusion of the economy as a top issue was perhaps less surprising. With austerity we have all seen the affect that cuts have had on the individuals and communities we support, so no wonder we care about it.

In terms of issues that you thought mattered to your organisation, they were much the same of the top three personal concerns, although with the addition of local authorities.  That’s no surprise as we all know how much the sector works with local authorities and how difficult it can be to have positive relationships, especially in times of cuts and local government retrenchment.

With more cuts to come we will have to help local authorities work in new ways and follow a more preventative programme, so as we all know it’s time to keep on building positive relationships whenever we can.

Finally, no doubt you want to know who the sector is going to vote for. Well, as I hinted in my original post that accompanied this survey, we’re keeping that to ourselves. It has enabled us to plan how we work with all political parties and to highlight to them your thoughts on their policies and how they can best serve sector needs and so improve, so your answers on that haven’t been wasted!

However, as a titbit I can tell you that a whopping 69% of you are planning to vote the same way in the 2016 Scottish Parliamentary election as you will in the May 2015 general election. So I expect 2016 will prove particularly interesting!

Finally, many thanks to all of you for filling in the survey – we got over 250 admissible responses which is great. The results will continue to help us shape our political engagement work into the 2016 Holyrood elections, so thank you for taking the time, and I hope this blog has given you a wee insight into where the sector is with its current thinking.

Let’s see if any of the issues important to the sector come up in tonight’s debate!

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

by Jenny Bloomfield