Third Sector Grant Cuts Biting Hard
31st January 2019
In 2018, The Highland Council agreed a review of all third sector funding contracts moving forward. This is to ensure that in a time of reducing public sector resource, any funding for third sector services should be allocated within Service Level Agreements, to meet identified needs, with measurable outcomes and providing best value for public money.
The Council is currently developing proposals for bridging a £31M budget gap next year in addition to addressing an in-year overspend situation. In the light of this situation, grant funding will continue to be less available and it is more important than ever to allocate this properly and fairly across Highland, in line with need and with appropriate levels of scrutiny and governance.
Many groups across Highland region are being affected by the reductions due to lack of funds in the Highland council budget. This being reflected across all Scottish councils. Councils are anticipating more cuts in line with the Scottish Government final settlement
Discussions have been held recently between Special Needs Action Project (SNAP) and officers and Chief Executive Donna Manson met with SNAP Directors and staff on Wednesday 30th January 2019.
She said: "With regard to SNAP, the Council recognises the very much valued support this organisation provides to families in Inverness.
"Officers are continuing dialogue with SNAP to identify other possible sources of funding for the current year to help achieve a viable position.
"The Council has a duty to consider what services need to be provided on our behalf, to seek best value for these services and to have a process of governance over the distribution of funds with equity across the Highland area.
"We have already agreed that we will be entering into early discussions with SNAP and other third sector organisations regarding need, service requirements and formal processes to allocate funding. There will be a workshop in February with members of the third sector, including SNAP, to agree methods of funding and how we can redesign our processes."
She added: "Our discussions have been useful and I have given a clear commitment from the Council that we will work with the third sector to help lever funding from elsewhere as we work together for the benefit of all Highland communities."
The Highland Council budget decisions made on 15 Feb 2018 for the 2018/19 budget included a saving of £200K for Childcare and Early Learning - Reduce financial support to childcare providers - see page 15 of budget booklet B at this link Ref CL17 https://www.highland.gov.uk/download/meetings/id/73144/item_4_details_of_proposed_budget_savings_booklet_b
In December 2018 the Highland council stated "Highland Council officers met with representatives of SNAP last week to discuss the situation with regards to their discretionary funding application - which was refused - and to discuss a possible way forward. Officers were clear that the decision to refuse was based on the huge financial savings that the Council is faced with making this year across all services and that this was not around the quality of provision that SNAP offer."
The Scottish budget is being discussed and voted on today in the Scottish parliament. The Scottish government insists funding is increasing but this is outweighed but the additional responsibilities being place on councils such as increased child care at schools and nurseries.
The debate is live on the Scottish Parliament channel online at https://www.scottishparliament.tv/