COVID 19 has been and continues to be challenging for everyone and every sector, including the community and voluntary sector. National research published by SCVO in May 2020, indicates that up to 50% of community and voluntary sector organisations in Scotland are vulnerable due to reduced income as a result of the COVID 19 pandemic and may not have sufficient funds to continue operating in the near future or beyond March 2021. Findings from a national survey of the Scottish community and voluntary sector undertaken on behalf of all 32 Third Sector Interfaces and published in June, and from research published by OSCR (the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator) in August confirms, this perilous situation for the community and voluntary sector across Scotland.
During July-August, VANL surveyed the NL community and voluntary sector to find out about their response during the first stage of the COVID 19 pandemic, their financial challenges and their support priorities. The survey was distributed to around 800 community and voluntary sector groups. 153 of surveyed organisations responded to the survey (20% response rate). We think the response was lower than anticipated as many community and voluntary organisations are not operating as usual with services suspended or reduced and, where staff are employed, many or all may be on furlough. However, the response provides sufficient information to identify the challenges and needs of our sector.
Key findings from the survey show that with regards to financial security:
- 26% of responding organisations stated their projected income for 2020-21 will be insufficient to support core costs and service provision. This reduction in income is a result of grant and/or contract funding ending; a reduction in public donations and trading income from not being able to operate.
- However, 30% of organisations state they will remain stable moving forward, at least until March 2021.
The top five areas where responding organisations would welcome further support are:
1. Income generation (50%)
2. Partnership working (42%)
3. Community Engagement (37%)
4. ICT/Digital (31%)
5. Strategy & Planning (26%)
VANL continues to support the NL community and voluntary sector on funding and the other issues identified in the survey. VANL is also working with colleagues in North Lanarkshire Council, NHS Lanarkshire and Health and Social Care NL to review funding to our sector with a view to taking a strategic investment approach which focusses on meeting local needs more effectively. This work is part of cross-sector collaboration in developing a NL Recovery, Renewal and Investment Plan for our NL Community and Voluntary Sector as outlined below. More information on this proposed approach will be available soon for consultation.