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May 20, 2009

Voluntary groups highly dissatisfied with help from local statutory bodies

In England, one of the performance indicators against which Councils and other public sector bodies are judged is whether they create ‘an environment for a thriving third sector’. In the largest-ever government-sponsored survey of third sector organisations, this indicator has produced an average national score of just 16 per cent – showing significant room for improvement . Scottish Government has plans to commission some extensive research of its own around the third sector.

The largest-ever government-sponsored survey of third sector organisations has produced an average national score for how effectively local statutory bodies help them achieve their aims, of just 16 per cent.

The low scoring has prompted charities minister Kevin Brennan to urge local authorities, primary care trusts and other local government bodies, to redouble their efforts to improve their performance under the National Indicator 7 – ‘An environment for a thriving third sector’.

Brennan said: “Now that the survey has provided a baseline score – we will judge local statutory bodies on their progress at developing their relationship with local third sector organisations.”

However, he stopped short of criticising the statutory organisations, and expressed confidence that their performance would improve.

“Overall, I’m confident that there will be progress, we’ve already had really positive feedback from the survey and I’m pleased to note that local statutory body chief executives are very keen to develop their relationships with the third sector.”

The results differed vastly according to whether the respondent third sector organisations had current contact with local statutory bodies. Where they did, they give an NI 7 score of 75 per cent. Where they had little or no contact, the score dropped to 3 per cent.

The survey was mailed to more than 104,000 charities, voluntary groups and social enterprises, and 48,949 – 47 per cent – completed it.

The full results will be published today on the survey website.

LPL is conducting its own survey into how supportive the public sector is of the community sector .

Scottish Government has either commissioned or is about to commission a number of pieces of related research:


 The programme covers three themes that will support the Scottish Government’s five Strategic Objectives, as follows:

1. Alignment of research evidence to government strategy

2. The localism agenda

3. Sustainable growth of the third sector

1. The Alignment of the Evidence in Relation to Scottish Government Strategy

The main priority for Scottish Government analysts is to establish a thorough understanding of the evidence base and understand what the third sector can currently contribute to the government’s purpose (especially cohesion and solidarity) and five strategic objectives.

Project A. Commissioned.

The contribution of the third sector to the Government’s purpose and five strategic objectives

This work will review the current evidence on the third sector in Scotland to evaluate its contribution to the Government’s purpose and five strategic objectives (wealthier and fairer; smarter; greener; healthier and safer). It will identify what evidence we have on the Scottish third sector, and highlight the areas where the sector makes the largest contribution to the Government’s objectives. It will also draw on international evidence to highlight potential areas for the third sector to make an impact, thereby providing an indication of the gaps in evidence and the gaps in the sector for understanding how the strategic objectives can best be met with support from the third sector.

2. Localism

A key theme of the Government’s purpose is localism, in particular empowering communities and citizens to work together towards building sustainable economic growth with opportunities for all to flourish. The two projects here are specifically related to the new local landscape in which Third Sector organisations are operating.

Project B. To be commissioned.

The opportunities and challenges of the changing public services landscape for the third sector in Scotland: a longitudinal study

The purpose of this work is to assess and track over the next six years the opportunities and challenges that Third Sector organizations are facing with a changing public services landscape in Scotland between 2009 and 2014. The Concordat was signed in November 2007 and has begun an ongoing process of change that aims to deliver public services more effectively and efficiently by taking decisions closer to the public for whom they are designed. Other policies, such as the Crerar Review and Best Value 2 are likely to contribute to changes in the public sector landscape. This work will investigate how these and other local issues impact upon third sector organisations and the work they do, assessing the perceived as well as actual impacts. The outcomes will provide evidence on the impact of the changing local  landscape in relation to the third sector, identifying areas of good practice that can be shared with other third sector organisations, and also areas where greater support needs to be directed. Longer term, his work will also be an additional means for identifying the success level of recommendations resulting from Project C, below, on the role of the third sector within community planning partnerships. The intention is for this to be a longitudinal study with a group of organisations over a period of time.

Project C. To be commissioned.

The role of third sector organisations in Community Planning Partnerships

The Concordat has devolved greater responsibilities to local level and Community Planning Partnerships will play a greater role than in the past in the design and delivery of public services. Comment from thirdsector stakeholders has suggested that third sector organisations do not always have sufficient involvement in CPPs, particularly in this context. This research is intended to establish the current and recommended level and type of third sector involvement in CPPs and make recommendations about effective models for engagement, based on established practice. On the basis of an initial mapping exercise of current processes and involvement, it will provide an analysis of the effectiveness of a range of involvement models, highlighting areas of good practice. It will also identify any barriers (perceived or real) to involvement of third sector organisations in CPPs, on a local and national basis. One of the primary measures of third sector involvement in CPPs will be their influence on single outcome agreements, as CPPs will now be the principle means for bringing this influence to bear. In this context, this work is directly linked with Project B, and ongoing outputs from the two projects are expected to complement each other.

3. Sustainable and Strategic Growth of the Third Sector

A key role has been identified for the third sector in achieving the Scottish Government’s purpose of creating a more successful country with opportunities for all of Scotland to flourish through sustainableeconomic growth. In order to realise that potential, the Scottish Government is seeking evidence on which to base strategic decisions about the best places to invest and about how to support most effectively the third sector in developing their businesses.

Project D. To be commissioned.

Evaluating the success factors for establishing a thriving social enterprise

The Scottish Government is committed to developing the number and quality of social enterprises in Scotland, and particularly those that provide services to the BME community. This research will help us to understand the factors that contribute to a successful social enterprise and how these can influence investment decisions, and any specific qualities and characteristics of Social enterprises run for and by the BME community. It will first draw on evidence from SMEs to understand the success factors of standard enterprises. It will go on to classify what constitutes a successful social enterprise by focussing in-depth on a number of organisations from different sectors of both successful and less successful social enterprises, including those providing services to the BME community. The study will also explore the extent to which access to support is a success factor and highlight any shortcomings in the current provision. The case studies will establish whether it is feasible to draw up any success factors and, if so, compare these with the documented success factors of SMEs to identify distinctive aspects of social enterprise success. The research will then be used to establish the viability of undertaking a follow up study to test the success factors at a larger scale.