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Stronger partnerships

From Open Government Pioneer Project

Introduction[edit | edit source]

Third sector organisations have a shared agenda with Scottish Government around securing wellbeing and a sustainable economy.

These ambitions are neatly captured by the Revised National Outcomes launched on 11th June 2018, as aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals.

This (open) paper explores third sector views on the optimum ways in which government and third sector can work together.

It is my (Ruchir from SCVO) interpretation and analysis based on feedback from third sector intermediaries, and SCVO's third sector networks.

Feel free to add to this page and/or edit it.

Analysis[edit | edit source]

Analysis of third sector intermediaries
Theme It works best when... Notes What needs to happen?
Funding relationships
  • Intermediaries are able to diversify their funding as much as possible, in addition to securing a core government funding source.
  • When third sector is championed internally by one part of government to another, especially their funder. With the Third Sector Unit providing overall coordination for this within Government.
  • The funding department is aware of and supportive of the asks of other government departments on the funded organisation’s time and expertise
  • Third sector Intermediaries often have a funding relationship with a very specific part of Government (or a government agency)
  • It is difficult to build a relationship with other parts of government, which are not funding the intermediary.
  • Support and recognition where an intermediary chooses or is in a position to diversify their funding.
  • Awareness and engagement by other parts of government in addition to the one funding the intermediary.
  • Third sector unit support by scoping out diversification opportunities within Government funding
Funding models
  • Longer, three year core funding settlements are in place for established intermediaries
  • Funding settlements are cognisant of staff morale and job security
  • Good existing activities that are known to work is funded, not just new work
  • Funding is provided in advance of activities not in arrears.
  • Where a healthy reserves policy to ensure good financial planning for redundancies and contingencies is not penalised in grant applications
  • The role and function that intermediaries play (i.e. sector capacity development and voice) are suited to longer term funding models.
  • Intermediaries can find it harder than frontline organisations to access funding through open grant calls.
  • Volunteers also need to be supported and that this takes staff resource which funding settlements needs to recognise
  • Government's commitment to three year funding as as a norm becomes routinely practiced.
  • Find ways to reduce the amount of time that staff need to spend on funding applications overall
  • Ensure grant agreements make allowances for organisational succession planning, and turnover of staff (See results of ACOSVO's survey of CEOs)
Outcomes planning
  • There is early strategic engagement in planning shared outcomes between government funders and third sector intermediaries
  • There is a clear shared understanding about outcomes that intermediaries can realistically achieve directly and the outcomes they contribute to
  • Government maintains relationships with sector intermediaries even when those intermediaries are openly critical of policy
  • There used to be a Scottish Compact between Scottish Government and third sector. It still exists but is a bit old now (2004).
  • Government sometimes tends to engage more with networks and forums that it sets up and/or funds.
  • Intermediaries work towards outcomes that are usually longer term, so would multi-annual grant agreements.
  • First Minister has stated that Government delivers better policy when devising it together with the sector
  • Explore a revised approach to partnership working, which could be captured in a revised set of terms of engagement, so long as it has a clear purpose.
  • Explore the full range of levers available such as programme for government, open government, community engagement
  • Explore a mechanism to recognise the value of sector participation in policy development, including the time the sector puts in to government working groups and consultations, and supporting collaboration within sector including between national and local organisations.
Analysis of locally funded third sector organisations
Theme It works best when... Notes What needs to happen?
Funding relationships with delivery orgsanisations
  • All application and bidding processes are simplified wherever possible. Forms and processes are standardised wherever appropriate.
  • Full support is available to applicants to help them through the application or bidding process. Useful and timely feedback is provided as a matter of course.
  • Information across funders and commissioners is pooled where appropriate, to ensure that the third sector is not unnecessarily repeating information that has already been shared.
  • Learning on best practice is shared amongst funders and commissioners
  • A single point where third sector organisations can apply for grants., where appropriate (and ascertained by third sector organisations in partnership with funders).
  • Where consortium bids are encouraged, support is given, particularly to small organisations.
Research & Evidence: Local Funding Survey 2017 highlights good (and not so good) practice, and makes recommendations in two key areas
  • Funding processes
  • Funding terms and conditions

Research & Evidence: SCVO Workforce Survey 2015 survey found a number of workforce-related issues created by cuts/ static funding :

  • some staff had not been awarded cost of living awards for many years
  • short-term funding and a lack of job security (as well as low pay) was making experienced staff leave the sector (also the implications for beneficiaries who need stability in terms of their support workers/carers/ contact people)
  • cuts to funding meant workers leaving not being replaced
  • pressure on remaining staff was causing people to work unpaid overtime and creating stress
Better funding terms and conditions

1. The most appropriate form of funding mechanism must be used for each situation; open tendering processes should only be used when appropriate.

2. Minimum wage costs and uplifts, and inflationary uplifts, should be provided as a matter of course wherever applicable.

3. Funding levels must match the service levels required, and core costs must be taken into account when calculating funding.

4. Funding should cover periods greater than a year for continuing services and projects – preferably three years – in order to provide stability to those the sector supports.

5. Whatever the grant or contract length, funding should never be withdrawn ‘out of the blue’. Neither should funding be reduced because an organisation has raised funds elsewhere.

6. Monitoring and evaluation should be kept to a level commensurate with the amount of funding/size of agreement applied for.

Strategic relationships with delivery organisations
  • Capacity investment is provided to the third sector as part of the engagement process
  • Statutory partners take (and our given) the time and space to understand the system or relationships between third sector organisations and how this impacts on outcomes for people and communities.
Budget constraints brings out the best and worst in relationships between third sector and statutory partnerships.
Case Studies
Case Study initiative What is it? Why does it work?
Mind the Craic – listening to 1001 voices
Fife ETC Employment Consortium (third sector)