The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) has urged Finance Secretary John Swinney to invest in preventative programmes in the Scottish Budget today, to help ensure that local authorities do not impose deep cuts on the voluntary sector.
The umbrella body wanted to see a shift towards government investing in preventing problems before they arise in order to avoid spending increasing amounts on acute services like prisons and hospitals.
Chief Executive Martin Sime said: “If we are to genuinely meet the needs of an ageing population, higher unemployment and increasing inequality during the age of austerity, then we need to radically change public services to focus on prevention – and the voluntary sector holds to key to doing just that.
“In our sector there is a greater emphasis on stopping problems developing – keeping people off drugs, out of prison, at home and not in hospital – than the more traditional dealing with problems when they are acute. The voluntary sector also excels at involving service users and service delivery organisations – we believe in services done with people, and not to people. This has to be the way forward for all our quality of life, if not just the public purse”.
He pointed out that the voluntary sector was also good at creating jobs. The Scottish voluntary sector “has an annualised growth rate of 12 per cent”, he said, “and we employ 137,000 paid staff, with even more jobs being created through the Future Jobs Fund”. The sector’s 45,000 organisations turn over £4.4 billion a year.
He argued that the voluntary sector’s capacity to help tackle problems was at risk because of national and local spending cuts. “We urge Mr Swinney”, he said, “to invest in the preventative measures our sector is so successful at delivering”.
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