The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations works in partnership with the voluntary sector to advance their shared values and interests. They have over 1300 members who range from individuals and grassroots groups, to Scotland-wide organisations and intermediary bodies. Through lobbying and campaigning SCVO works to advance the interests of our members and the people and communities that they support.
SCVO is member of AGNA. Affinity groups are groupings of CIVICUS members that exist to take forward CIVICUS’ mission and values. The Affinity Group of National Associations (AGNA) brings together national associations from around the world. National associations are those organisations, which provide and give a collective voice to civil society in their countries, serve as interlocutors between civil society and other sectors and struggle for the creation of an enabling environment for civil society at the national level.
State/civil society relations:
How does the state view and relate to civil society in your country?
Scotland has a generally supportive State relationship with civil society. Civil society organisations (CSOs) are regarded as a critical friend that can both deliver public services but also advise Government on how to improve laws and policies.
Have there been any significant changes in relations between civil society and the government in your country in the last year?
No, not at Scotland’s national level. At the UK’s national level, the coalition government has sought a cap on tax relief for charity donations and associated views, which has damaged some of the trust between many CSOs and the UK Government. Later the UK Government’s welfare reform programme has been regarded by many CSOs as regressive and devastating to its beneficiaries, and this too has damaged relations between some CSOs and the UK Government.
What conditions do you feel need to be in place to allow for a good relationship between the state and civil society at a national level?
Mutual respect, an understanding of what each party can bring to the table and parity of esteem are necessary conditions.
The legal and regulatory environment:
Are there any particular challenges with the legal and regulatory environment for civil society? (e.g. are the laws outdated / inappropriate / inadequate / over-complex / partial / not properly applied / adequate)?
What recent trends do you feel have enabled or restricted the efficiency of civil society?
The recession and public spending austerity has had a severe impact across the CSO sector.
Funding environment for CSOs:
What is the reality of funding in your country? (Access to funding/ patterns of donor support/ restrictions on funding etc.)
All sources of funding are currently being ‘squeezed’. CSOs have spent the previous year preparing and adapting for this.
Where is money going and for what purposes?
Money goes towards a wide range of purposes including public service delivery, advocacy, awareness campaigns, job readiness programmes and to support arts, sports and health activities.