SCVO calls for greater freedom to run public services

Umbrella group asks Scottish government to cut regulations that hamper charities


The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations has urged the Scottish government to remove regulations that make it difficult for charities to provide public services.

In a report published yesterday, called How To Do Things Differently, the SCVO also asks the government to continue to provide grant funding rather than offer contracts.

The report is intended to influence politicians in the run-up to the Holyrood elections, which will take place in May.

Many of the processes being used by local authorities in procuring public services are not necessary in law and are counterproductive in outcome, it says.

It calls for a community benefit clause to be inserted into all public procurement exercises and an "urban right to buy", similar to the rural right to buy that already exists in Scotland, which allows communities to take over land and buildings.

It also calls for the continuation of grant funding for voluntary sector organisations, rather than a shift towards contracts.

"Grant funding is a simple and effective way for third sector bodies to provide small-scale activities such as after-school clubs and environmental projects," it says.

"However, this highly effective form of funding is rapidly being replaced by contract funding which is creating serious problems for many grass-roots organisations.

"In many cases the cost of the contracting process outweighs the value of the grant, particularly where it involves competitive tendering."

It also says excessive regulation should be removed. "The third sector currently needs to jump through too many hoops to get its work done," says the report.

The SCVO’s report covers similar ground to the Social Enterprise Bill, which is going through parliament but will not apply in Scotland.

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