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Putting the third sector at the heart of Scotland's economic recovery

Includem welcomes the opportunity to submit a response to the Scottish Advisory Group on Economic Recovery. You can read our full submission here.

Our Chief Executive, Martin Dorchester, summarises his thoughts:

Martin Dorchester

Includem believes the third sector has more “than an important role” to society and the economy. It is, we believe, pivotal to making the change required to bring about a more robust and inclusive economy that works for everyone.

Taking an economic perspective, the sector has a turnover in excess of £6 billion, expenditure that almost matches that at £5.7 billion and employs over 100,000 people (paid) in Scotland. But more than that, and as we have seen during this pandemic, it significantly contributes to the wellbeing of society, to the development of community and for the good of all.

Includem operates in perhaps the most challenging and deprived areas of Scotland. Our work is grounded in making the right interventions to deliver long lasting, future results. We invest in children and young people so that they have the opportunity to participate in and contribute to society.

A key plank of our work is through participation, which involves listening to the young people, families and communities we work with and then truly involving them in this investment and intervention. Although organisationally we have an operating hierarchy, we involve everyone in the decision making process and hear their voices and, most importantly, we are open to learning and changing. I believe that if the Scottish government truly wants to build a different future then this type of thinking and working needs to become the dominant model.

Includem may be a national organisation but we are locally based and we work in and with our communities. We recommend a recovery stimulated from the grassroots (ironic in this case) up as opposed to top down; situated in communities, thus allowing the benefits of:

  • future capacity building
  • reduced travel (less pollution)
  • smarter working practices to be embedded
  • supported by a new social contract based on how we need and value “public” services such as the NHS and third sector.

We believe this would provide a real platform to build a society based on wellbeing rather than just GDP. To build a society that is committed to eradicating poverty and deliver the change at a fundamental level that is needed.

Immediate Recommendations;

  • Formation of a “Stop-Go” group immediately to put into practice quickly the things agreed on but also to stop doing things too. The Care Review used this very effectively. A real challenge is how you turn macro level ideas and policy into micro level activity, this would be an effective tool. At the same time, it should allow practitioners into the process and challenge the validity and robustness of any macros level policies.
  • In the third sector the long term viability of organisations is often driven by the uncertainty of the contracts it holds. It is not unusual for an infrastructure contract to be awarded on a 10-year term, yet this is unheard of in the third sector. Move all contracts in the sector onto a minimum of 5 years. Give certainty to organisations, services and jobs.
  • Increase Economy, Fair Work and Culture Secretary’s portfolio to include third sector as equal partner. If we truly want a wellbeing economy, then move the third sector into the remit of the business secretary. At the moment the sector is linked into Health and Social care which often subverts it to clinical outputs. This needs to change if we truly want to change the way our society works. Additionally, I believe that over the next 5 years we will need a social response to the pandemic, as much if not more than a clinical one.
  • Broadband as a utility: A number of calls have been made and we would not disagree. However, this must not be at the expense of “human contact” nor must it be seen as a “cure all”. Our recent Staying Connected report on digital exclusion highlighted many of the shortfalls of assuming digital can cure all.
  • Develop capacity in local communities: Localise supply chains (community and in country), introduce schemes such as the Grameen Bank, facilitate the re-introduction of traditional skills (pay older/retired people to train next generation)
  • Micro enterprise: Local authorities to get behind small business, social enterprises and charities and create and keep wealth in local communities.
  • Build reward in for local authorities to invest in joined up commissioning. Charities and the third sector frequently provide early intervention support. This often saves money from NHS budgets, policing budgets and education. Adopt a “gainshare principle” to encourage this. If crime reduces then why only look at policing budgets benefit?

Includem are pleased to be able to offer these recommendations to the Scottish Government and looks forward to working closely across all sectors to improve outcomes for all of Scotland.

Read the full submission.

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