Charities In Crisis

The voluntary sector in Scotland has been trying to weather the storm of the current financial crisis this past week.  The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisation’s Chief Executive, Lucy McTernan, has met with the Secretary of State for Scotland to discuss the issue of Icelandic bank deposits.

Ms McTernan said: “The voluntary sector in Scotland is facing troubling times, demand for its services is rising while income is uncertain and reserves continue to fall.”

The meeting was positive, with Jim Murphy expressing an interest in the voluntary sector and pledging to discuss the issues that had been raised with Westminster.  Murphy sits on the new National Economic Forum in Westminster and has a major role to play in guaranteeing voluntary sector deposits which have been lost in Icelandic banks.

SCVO have also called on UK and Scottish Ministers to implement a four point plan which will help charities and voluntary organisations survive the turbulent financial climate.

The plan includes asking the UK Government to guarantee all voluntary sector bank deposits, which will ensure that charities can continue to operate with confidence.  It also calls on the government to alter the rules around Gift Aid, a move which could mean a significant cash injection for charities.

Lucy McTernan is backing the plan: “I believe it is right that the UK Government give assurances that the assets of charities and other voluntary organisations will be fully protected from the economic downturn and I believe that the Government ought to take any action which will increase the funding going to charity, such as altering the rules for Gift Aid.”

The four point plan further asks that the UK Government use its new influence within major banks following their bail out, to ensure that their charitable foundations will continue to provide vital funding for good causes and that corporate social responsibility remains a high priority for the financial services industry.

SCVO are based in Edinburgh but operate throughout Scotland.  They provide many services to the public including helping local people recover from drug and alcohol addictions and integrate back into society, they also assist people of all ages in gaining employment.

SCVO will be holding a meeting in November to evaluate the impact of the economic downturn and to look at ways in which voluntary organisations can collaborate to help each other through this difficult time.