Tracey Slaven, deputy director, third sector and social economy at the Scottish Government, said: “The division will continue existing work such as supporting national intermediaries and implementing the social enterprise strategy, but the new structure recognises the shared nature of many of the issues facing both voluntary organisations and social enterprises, such as commissioning and connecting with community planning partnerships.”
The third sector division now has four departments that are charged with engaging with the sector at policy level, working with the sector and commissioners on procurement processes, developing key investment programmes and increasing sector support at a local level.
A spokesman for the Scottish Government said the merger was also about creating “a strengthened team at the heart of government”. He said: “The Scottish Government acknowledges that the sector is a key player in achieving our overall objective of making Scotland a more successful country. Despite being on the receiving end of the worst financial settlement since devolution, we have decided to invest significantly in the third sector by substantially increasing funding.”
In November, John Swinney, cabinet secretary for finance and sustainable growth in the Scottish Government, pledged £63m for sector development in 2008-11. The spokesman said that that figure represented a 37 per cent increase in sector funding when combined with another £30m to be invested in a Scottish investment fund to boost the sector’s role in public-service delivery.