How do we truly invest in Scotland’s future?

Posted: 16 June 2022, in News

Investing in Scotland’s Future is a recent public finance strategy from the Scottish Government.

This “Resource Spending Review” sets out the high-level parameters for resource spending from 2026-27 and outlines spending plans to deliver the Programme for Government and other government policy pledges.

The new policy document (that is not a budget) includes sections on the economic and fiscal context that we’re in post-lockdown, public service reform, the cost of living, child poverty and the climate emergency.

It also includes positions related to procurement, digital public services, innovation, shared services and managing public sector grants.

According to the Scottish Government, it’s an “ambitious but realistic public spending framework…which outlines how more than £180 billion will be invested to deliver priorities for Scotland” and a “platform for engagement ahead of the next budget on how best to reform Scotland’s high performing public sector to become more efficient, to deliver ambitious outcomes.”

SCVO says that third sector organisations have been let down by the new strategy by a lack of multi-year funding commitments, falling short of what’s needed by the third sector.

They say the document makes no mention of how the Scottish Government will invest in charities, community groups, and social enterprises over the long-term and that fair, flexible, and accessible funding is urgently needed.

But how do we best invest in Scotland’s future, build a better, wellbeing economy and make that much needed transformational shift?

While the new Resource Spending Review may have fallen short on ambitions and expectations, however vital it is, it’s only one part of a bigger strategic picture. 

All parts of national and local government, the third sector and civic society must be moving in the same direction – and clearly understand the urgent need to shift to a green, wellbeing economy.

To truly invest in Scotland’s future we must prioritise innovative business models to deliver goods and services in every urban and rural community. This means genuinely moving beyond old, top-down, centralised public sector or traditional private sector delivery.

The various social enterprise business models, like Community Interest Companies, SCIOs, Co-operatives, universities, social housing providers and Development Trusts are ideally placed to do so much more to build community wealth at a local level.

Social enterprises and the third sector are growing and positively developing in many ways and our economic impact is already significant. We certainly have the potential to be the new, foundational bedrock of our economy if we invest in the right way.

However, this can only happen with the right funding, business support and, crucially, widespread public awareness. Much work still needs to be done to mainstream these business models as the normal, standard models of choice for every entrepreneur.

It’s vital that we continue to campaign and influence so that social enterprises, mission-led businesses and voluntary groups are able to lead the way in this urgently needed economic transformation.

Duncan Thorp, Policy and Public Affairs Manager, Social Enterprise Scotland