We are keen to share with Members the news that the Scottish Government has taken the decision to pause its Small Grants Programme for the financial year 2021-22. This is both due to COVID-19 pressures and to enable the SG’s International Development Team to reflect on the findings of a review of the programme.
We understand that Covid-19 is impacting timescales for many of us and look forward to the resumption of this distinctive and much-admired programme. We appreciate that it would have been extremely difficult to have had a call for applications in the summer of 2020 given the level of uncertainty due to Covid-19 and hence appreciate the logic of this pause.
We are glad that the Corra Foundation has already contacted current grant holders to reassure them that their existing grants are not affected by this decision.
We are grateful for the strong commitment to the Programme in the most recent (2016) SNP Holyrood Manifesto, which states: “We will also continue our Small Grants Scheme that has allowed many smaller agencies to contribute to our poverty reduction goals.”
And also in the Scottish Government’s current international development policy, which states: “we will continue to fund our Small Grants Programme, keeping it under review to make any improvements deemed necessary, including possible changes to its geographic focus;”
The SMP very strongly supports the Small Grants Programme – both because of what we believe to be its value for money, with strong impact compared to the scale of investments, and because of its inclusivity, engaging many more smaller, more diverse, often community-led Scottish NGOs.
We believe this programme has been (and hope will continue to be) a really integral part of the Scottish Government’s International Development programme.
We feel it is the Scottish Government at its best: trying a different -more inclusive- approach, doing it really well, and others then looking to follow this success and leadership. We see DFID’s Small Charities Challenge Fund as building on the success of, and directly emulating, the Scottish Government’s Small Grants Programme.
We applaud the Scottish Government for the success it has enjoyed with this programme, believing it to be the best example of the Scottish Government’s “bottom-up” and “partnership of equals” approach, as outlined in its International Development Strategy. We believe that the success the programme has had, and the strong support it has received from all corners, is in no small part thanks to the outstanding programme management of the Corra Foundation and the willingness to listen to and engage civic society, with annual meetings bringing all parties together, listening to feedback and taking on board learning from each of the networks and previous applicants.
It has been a pleasure to be involved in this process -government working in synergy with civic society- and we hope this approach continues.
We hope that the review of the programme will be made public, in keeping with the Scottish Government’s commitment to, and proven record on, transparency. If the review has identified ways in which the programme can be made even more effective and impactful, that is all to the good and we look forward to feeding into the conversation constructively.
As always, if Members would like to share their views on this or any other matter, please do contact us and we will endeavour to help make representation.