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Voluntary and Community Organisations: Funding

Volume 683: debated on Wednesday 11 November 2020

What recent discussions he has had with Scottish Government Ministers on the adequacy of funding for voluntary and community organisations in Scotland. (908451)

I regularly meet Scottish Ministers to discuss matters of importance to Scotland. Funding for the voluntary sector and community organisations in Scotland is a matter for the Scottish Government. I take this opportunity to pay tribute to the enormous work that charities and voluntary organisations do, in Scotland and the UK, to support our communities through this very challenging period.

Charities and social enterprises have never been more needed across the UK, but may I correct the Minister? The Government put forward a fund of £60 million for charities within the devolved authorities, so I would like to know how much the Scottish charities have received from that fund and what representations he has made for its extension, because charities have never have been in more need.

The funding that is given to the Scottish Government does not necessarily have to be used exactly for those purposes. They can supplement that as well out of the general funds that are transferred—the £8.2 billion. I am very happy to look into how that money is being spent, and I refer back to the point that my hon. Friend the Member for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk (John Lamont) made about the questions over how the £2 billion has been spent.

I join the Minister on behalf of those on this side of the House in praising the voluntary sector and charities across Scotland, which have stepped up to support so many people right across the nation. At the same time, however, charities face an existential financial crisis. The Minister will be aware that a report earlier this year from the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator found that a fifth of Scottish charities were facing uncertainty because of poor finances over the next 12 months. With new restrictions now coming in across Scotland in different phases, will the Minister commit to working with the Secretary of State, with Scottish Ministers and, importantly, with the Chancellor of the Exchequer to ensure that these voluntary sector organisations get any additional funding that they may need to support the people of Scotland during the pandemic?

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his question. He is right. I have had a number of meetings with the Association of Chief Officers of Scottish Voluntary Organisations and they have an unprecedented leadership challenge. One of them put to me the analogy that they are trying to fix the wings of an aircraft when it is in flight. There is an enormous challenge for all of us, whether in government, in the charities themselves or in the private sector, to work closely together, for us to help them through this and for them to help us to rebuild our economy and society better than when we went into this period.