We have created a web resource to highlight real-life examples of positive working relationships between the voluntary and public sectors – where the relationships are mature, the funding arrangements sensible, and the outcomes beneficial to communities.

In this short blog, Jenny Bloomfield, SCVO’s Senior Policy Lead, discusses why we’ve put together such a resource, and how we hope it will help you:

Ever since I started at SCVO, funding has been one of those perennial issues, reappearing year after year. It tends to be particularly fraught where it relates to local authority and other public body spending – they, more than any other funder, seem to be hamstrung by the need to account for every single penny of public money they spend. 

This often leads to a paternalistic culture, with evaluation and monitoring of contracts, service level agreements, and other arrangements causing as many complaints in my conversations with members as procurement processes and contract negotiations. Not only that, but the sector rarely receives uplifts to cover increases in inflation or minimum wages which occur during the lifetime of an agreement. 

With this in mind, I’ve been working over the past few months to put together ten case studies which show different ways of working cross-sectorally. They are all different, but all show a willingness on the part of both parties to find solutions to service provision.

In some of the cases, local authorities have employed staff members specifically to work with and help represent sector views; in others, council staff have situated themselves within voluntary sector centres, enabling ideas, projects and support to cross those boundaries more easily; in yet others, change has come about purely through dialogue, openness, and a willingness to do things differently for the benefit of service users. 

Of course, these are all snapshot examples. I’m sure they’re not perfect – who does, after all, have a perfect funding relationship? That said, they all hold ideas which can be applied to other organisations as they go through their own negotiations with local authorities – or that local authority departments can use to learn where there is something a bit different going on. 

We’ll be keeping this web resource up for the foreseeable future, so please do use it in your negotiations as a source of good practice examples. Meanwhile, we’ll be sharing it with COSLA, local authority and Scottish Government networks – the more we can spread this kind of good work, and encourage more of it, the better.

Take a look at our ten positive partnership case studies!