Cash boost for Scottish voluntary groups comes with strings attached

    The Scottish executive has unveiled £18m of funding for
    regenerating the country’s most deprived communities, but voluntary
    and community organisations will only be allowed to bid for a share
    of the cash if they are commercially competitive.

    The executive wants voluntary organisations to become
    “self-sufficient businesses”, where they are able to make a profit
    that will be reinvested back into the communities.

    Priority will be given to projects for and run by young
    people.

    It hopes to help 500 organisations develop their services over a
    two-year period with an emphasis on allowing the sector to gain
    equal access to service delivery contracts.

    The communities minister Margaret Curran said: “This is not about
    handouts for failing businesses, or giving one sector preference
    over another. It’s about laying out a structure of support to drive
    forward progress and supporting those who really deliver on the
    ground.”

    The funding will be managed by a new Social Economy Unit, located
    in the executive’s regeneration agency Communities Scotland. It is
    expected to be available from October.

    It includes a £12m fund that will allocate cash to
    medium-sized and large organisations. Around 70 per cent of this
    fund will go to capital investment projects, which will allow
    organisations to access alternative sources of funding.

    Another £4m fund will allow smaller, community-focused
    organisations to develop their services. It will also provide
    grants of up to £5,000 to enable individual entrepreneurs to
    turn ideas into live projects.

    An additional £1m has also been allocated for training and
    £1m to fund a support programme.

    A spokesperson for the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations
    said: “The announcement is good news for Scotland’s communities
    because the funding means the sector should find itself in an
    enhanced position when competing with for-profit organisations to
    deliver public services.”

    – Futurebuilders Scotland report from www.communitiescotland.gov.uk

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