Those organisations that form part of Scotland's Third Sector – charities, social enterprises and community bodies among others – will be wondering how best to face the unprecedented challenges created by the current coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
It can be expected that Third Sector organisations will see the demand for their services significantly increase during the pandemic, despite the serious threats to their cash flow, fundraising and staffing.
Third Sector organisations perform an increasingly important role in Scotland's modern economy and the Scottish Government has announced substantial financial assistance to aid Third Sector organisations and the wider communities they serve.
£350 million emergency fund
The Scottish Government has announced a £350 million fund to support communities during the pandemic. This fund will be available to local authorities, charities, businesses, social enterprises and community bodies and is inherently designed to be flexible so as to best serve these organisations. This is in addition to the business support recently announced by the UK Government, which is also open to Third Sector organisations that generate over 50% of their income from trading. There is no restriction on the legal form of the organisation, as long as the trading threshold is met.
The Scottish Government is keen to use the fund to help Third Sector organisations avoid bureaucracy and red tape, so they can perform their functions in the community without unnecessary obstruction.
The emergency fund contains a £95 million package for local authorities, a £50 million package to address Council Tax and benefit issues and the following for Third Sector organisations:
- a £70 million Food Fund to aid both private and Third Sector organisations address community based food insecurity;
- a £50 million Wellbeing Fund to aid Third Sector organisations who require additional capacity to work with at-risk people who may be worst affected by the crisis, including homeless people and those experiencing fuel poverty;
- a £40 million Supporting Communities Fund will be used to support the rapidly growing community efforts at a local level which will be vital to national resilience, including supporting people at risk because of age, isolation, carers, homeless people and asylum seekers and signposting people to sources of help such as applying for benefits;
- £20 million will be allocated to a Third Sector Resilience Fund, to help ensure the health and continued viability of the third sector organisations affected by cash flow and other problems, which have a key role to play in our national response; and
- £25 million will be kept in reserve to allow swift and flexible responses to rapidly changing circumstances.
It is clear that the Scottish Government has shown support and solidarity with the Third Sector, highlighting its importance to Scotland's modern economy and response to the pandemic. The Scottish Government has promised to now work with Third Sector organisations to help implement and best use the funding available.
There is further support available for Third Sector organisations. For example the Scottish Community Development Centre is offering community bodies advice on how to work digitally. The National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NVCO) and the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) are also offering helpful advice.
Get in touch
Harper Macleod's specialist Third Sector team are on hand to provide practical advice on how to get your organisation through these difficult times. If you have any queries regarding the above, or on how to apply for funding, please contact a member of our team.