Alistair Darling MP, leader of the Better Together campaign

Address to SCVO Annual Gathering, Thursday 20 February 2014

The work of the third sector, often in partnership with government and other organisations, is essential in improving the lives of people across Scotland.

It’s a positive example of where we benefit from the social union that we have as part of the United Kingdom.

The UK is more than an economic and political union. It is also a social union, enabling us to work together across the four nations of the UK for the benefit of all.

It is this social union which allows us to tackle injustice and inequality wherever it exists in the UK.

Pooling and sharing our resources across the whole of the UK enables us to tackle this injustice and inequality far more than we ever could on our own.

Many of our third sector organisations work across the whole of the UK, from Cancer Research to the British Heart Foundation.

Late last year I visited an extraordinary facility at the University of Glasgow. It was a cardiovascular research unit which operated thanks to funding from the British Heart Foundation. This was money raised across the whole of the UK being invested here in Scotland for the good of people in Scotland.

The National Lottery is another good example of this social union, where money that is raised elsewhere in the UK is used for the benefit of people in Scotland, just as money raised in Scotland is invested elsewhere the UK. This pooling and sharing of resources is only made possible by our strong social union.

Organisations here today will do extraordinary work overseas in international development programmes. The UK has one of the best and most effective international aid budgets in the world, reducing poverty and eradicating inequality in some of the most deprived parts of our world. Why walk away from that?

As part of the UK we have more funds at our disposal to bring about the kind of change our communities need. Shutting ourselves off from what we know has worked makes no sense.

Projects and groups in Scotland have received substantial funding from the National Lottery. It’s a cross border relationship that works, but only because we are part of the UK. Leaving the UK would fundamentally change that.

On too many issues that are essential to allowing Scotland’s third sector to continue the important work it does the nationalists have been found wanting.

As part of the UK we have the best of both worlds – a strong Scottish Parliament taking key decisions about things that matter to our third sector, and we benefit from being able to access wider UK funding to support the important work these organisations do.”