Summary

Summary of SCVO’s recent work on helping tackle the effects of welfare reform in Scotland.

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Introduction

SCVO is working with Scottish Government to support third sector organisations operating both nationally and on the frontline as they help people and communities affected by welfare policy changes.

This briefing shares some of the intelligence and insights we are picking up from this work. We hope that sharing what works will ensure third sector organisations are best supported as they meet the rising demand on their services.

SCVO’s approach

  • Communicate experiences of frontline organisations in national conversations
  • Help identify and establish links between similar initiatives
  • Deliver a high quality communication service around welfare developments
  • Demonstrate what works by making available capacity and resilience grants funds for frontline organisations

National Conversations

SCVO and other third sector organisations have been actively involved in a variety of national conversations around welfare reform, ensuring experiences from the local frontline are heard. These include the Scottish Campaign on Welfare Reform (SCOWR), Challenge Poverty Week, the Scottish Welfare Fund Reference Group, and various events hosted by local third sector networks. In addition, SCVO hosted a Fairer Scotland conversation in July in partnership with Scottish Government.

Insights:

Local third sector concerns of stretched resources and predicted increased challenges due to further welfare changes, have been echoed nationally. The Welfare Fund provides a vital lifeline across the country and future developments require cross-sector input. SCVO’s discussion significantly helped shape the October update from the Cabinet Secretary on the wider Fairer Scotland conversations so far, with many key principles such as a rights based approach grounded in dignity and respect being central to this. SCOWR conversations have highlighted potential challenges around the Scotland Bill, not least the administration of new powers.

Links between initiatives – learning from developments in Glasgow

Two Glasgow Council for the Voluntary Sector (GCVS) initiatives – the Building Connections project and a Welfare Reform Expert Group – have brought together third sector organisations mitigating welfare reforms in the city on a regular basis to share learning and best practice, and develop partnership working. In addition, GCVS has identified a cross-sector community of practice approach as a possible future strategy.

The Poverty Alliance recently launched their Welfare Trackers report, which completed a 15 month partnership approach involving GCVS, Scottish Drugs Forum and the Poverty Alliance. This aimed to develop third sector understanding of the impact of welfare changes in Glasgow, and provide learning for the GCVS initiatives identified above.

Given current proposals to disperse Syrian refugees across various local authorities, SCVO and Scottish Refugee Council are organising a roundtable on refugee integration and the social security system at the Gathering, in February 2016.

Insights:

Glasgow has a strong and broad network, delivering partnership-led, assets-based approaches to welfare reform, with intentions to operate across sectors. The proposed event at the Gathering will explore the potential for engagement around welfare and integration experiences of refugees.

SCVO is also working with a number of local third sector networks to host local discussions around the role of frontline organisations. A number of discussions have already been hosted with the third sector interfaces in West Dunbartonshire, East Ayrshire, and Edinburgh, and further events are being arranged with our partners in East Lothian and Inverness. We will share some of the insights from these sessions in future briefings.

Community Capacity and Resilience fund

The Capacity and resilience fund is delivered by SCVO and Development Trusts Association Scotland on behalf of Scottish Government with advisory input from a range of national organisations. Both DTAS and SCVO are running separate strands of this fund. SCVO’s strand is to deliver a pilot initiative to see what impact can be generated by investing small amounts of cash with minimal bureaucracy to applicants from small frontline third sector organisations to meet the demand on their services from welfare changes.

This is turning out to be an important source of insights and engagement with the work done by frontline third sector organisations. SCVO is preparing a report based on interim reports of the activities funded through SCVO’s grants, which will be published early this year.

View further details on the fund (NB. currently closed to applications).

Communications

For some time now, SCVO has been running a fortnightly Welfare Cuts Bulletin highlighting the latest developments and forthcoming events around welfare reform to keep third sector organisations informed. This has involved drawing together academic and third sector reports; notice of upcoming events; and information regarding parliamentary motions, committee hearings and legislative changes. Notable pieces have included a budget special edition and a series of four reports from Sheffield Hallam University on the impact of welfare reform in Scotland.

Next steps

As further insights emerge from the conversations we host with frontline third sector organisations, the national networks and the welfare cuts bulletin, we will prepare and share further intelligence briefings to inform support for third sector organisations helping people and communities through welfare changes.