Scotland’s voluntary sector and its devolved government: A developing relationship?
Shah, Ruchir (2009)


by Ruchir Shah

In the run up to devolution, the overall conception of what can be achieved by the state in a modern society was probably broadly similar in Scotland and England. While the degree of emphasis differed, there was a recognition that the days of the omniscient welfare state had gone and after the economic liberalisation of the 1980’s, the progressive efficacy of a 100% free market was under question. Associated with the shift from the Conservative to New Labour UK administrations, there was increasing interest in the potential role of non-profits as a ‘third way’ to solving public policy needs. This process was accelerated by devolution.As a result, the sector in Scotland as in England found itself taking on a growing public service delivery role. Over time there was a concern that this was introducing tensions with its voice and advocacy role. This prompted the development of Compacts between the state and voluntary sectors during the late 90’s in England and Scotland. Given the fact that many of the policy areas that related to the activities of the voluntary sector were devolved areas such as social, environmental and cultural, it made more sense that the Compacts themselves were devolved. Scotland however brought with it a strong municipalism entrenched in local authorities, strong corporate interests embedded in the professional and medical institutions, and a substantially higher per-capita spend on public sector. These factors equated to a greater public sector penetration in Scotland and translated to a greater restraining of the development of the voluntary sector’s role in delivering statutory activities in Scotland compared to England.

Ruchir’s presentation is available here (Powerpoint format).


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