Annex D: Note of the Third Sector Roundtable
Resource Spending Review:
Note of roundtable discussion 16:15 – 17:00
21 April 2022
Kate Forbes, Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Economy
Pat Armstrong OBE– Chief Executive of ACOSVO
Ian Bruce – GCVS
Bridie Ashrowan – EVOC
Mhairi Wylie – Highland TSI
Ian Marr – Chief Executive of the Growth Partnership
Paul Bradley – Policy & Public Affairs Manager, SCVO
Chris Martin – Chief Executive - Social Enterprise Scotland (SES)
Angus Hardie – Director, Scottish Community Alliance
Maggie McManus – Scottish Attachment in Action
Graham Findlay – NE Sensory Services
Michelle Carruthers – Food Train
Moray Finch – Mull and Iona Community Trust
Supporting Scottish Government Officials from Third Sector and Public Spending divisions.
Purpose of Discussion
This is part of the external engagement programme for the Resource Spending Review (RSR) which supplements the online consultation (opened 9 December 2021 with publication of the RSR Framework, closed 27 March 2022).
The Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Economy welcomed stakeholders from the Third Sector to discuss the RSR and gain their insight into the following points:
- How to get best value and maximum impact out of public spending?
- Examples of good practice in working arrangements between Scottish Government and the Third Sector.
- The appropriateness of the priorities of the RSR.
- What attendees expect to see in a successful spending review.
The Cabinet Secretary welcomed attendees and provided a brief overview of the RSR before opening the discussion.
The discussion was relatively free-flowing, although it was centred on the questions listed above. We have grouped the key points around themes.
Attendees offered the following contributions and views:
The interface between Third Sector and Scottish Government
- It is vital to emphasise that the Third Sector is more than just a delivery partner for Scottish Government – it also acts as a resilience partner, building resilience in communities across Scotland; a thought partner, through developing innovative operating models and policy approaches; and, as a leadership partner, through the experience and knowledge base of the Third Sector's employees and boards and willingness to share best practice.
- There is an opportunity for the Third Sector and Scottish Government to work more closely together to develop leaders and provide opportunities for senior staff to gain experience across both sectors. This would also help build resilience and improve succession planning.
- It was agreed that the quality of service delivery should be at the heart of Third Sector and Scottish Government should consider what it can do to create the conditions to enable this.
- The Third Sector environment can be competitive due to the approach to funding and this has the potential to undermine collaboration and the delivery of outcomes. Attendees observed that collaboration improved while the sector responded to the Covid pandemic and would encourage learning from that experience.
Commissioning and procurement
- Attendees noted that they have experienced varying levels of administrative burden in the procurement process, including differences between various Scottish Government delivery partners in terms of requests for information. Attendees suggested that a review of commissioning and procurement practices and the establishment of a framework for delivery partners could improve efficiency and effectiveness in the Third Sector.
- The Scottish Government should consider approaches to budgeting that focus on a clear line between outcome delivery and spend. This model should also enable effective evaluation of the success of spending.
- A shift in focus to preventative spending would be welcomed by the Third Sector. It was noted that this is the one of the more effective ways to create real shifts in outcomes, although it does require one to take a longer term view.
- A multi-year approach to spending plans was welcomed by attendees, who noted that it will help improve planning. Attendees also discussed uplifts in funding and discussed how this would help them meet rising costs and any committed costs e.g. increases in staff pay. Attendees also suggested that, if possible, the publication of multi-year spending plans should become regular practice in Government.
- The RSR should revisit the recommendations of the Christie Commission and consider which of the larger scale measures might be taken forward to improve the effectiveness of public spending.
- The RSR should demonstrate how the Scottish Government has responded to the views of stakeholders and citizens, especially in light of the significant level of consultation and engagement over recent years.
- The RSR and wider public finance work might consider if it is possible to introduce further flexibility around grant funding; especially in cases where it is provided close to a financial year-end. Additional flexibility would enable the Third Sector to deploy such funding to greater effect.
Closing the session
The Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Economy chaired the meeting until close, thanking all attendees for their participation and outlined the process for clearing a short note of the discussion, to be included in the analysis of all responses to the RSR Framework consultation.
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