Corra’s response to the Advisory Group on Economic Recovery

Scottish Government have established an Advisory Group on Economic Recovery and called for views on how to mitigate the long-term economic impacts of Covid-19. The Advisory Group will share its recommendations by the end of June. To find out more visit: 

Corra Foundation welcomed the Scottish Government’s focus on wellbeing, food and supporting communities as part of the £350 million Coronavirus support package to the third sector that aimed to reduce the impact of the pandemic and subsequent lockdown measures.

Throughout the pandemic, third sector organisations have made significant adaptions to service delivery ensuring they can continue to support the most vulnerable people in communities across Scotland. Corra also understands that many third sector organisations have had to use reserves to stay afloat as well as furlough staff.

Not only has the Covid-19 pandemic increased demand for certain services (for example food banks, support for mental wellbeing and combating loneliness) it is likely that new issues will emerge from the crisis and that the third sector will be first to respond to these challenges as they surface. The third sector has demonstrated how agile it can be and economic recovery must support the sector as it continues to adapt to the changing circumstances.

Going forward, it will also be important to reflect on the challenges that existed prior to the pandemic and the extent these may have been exacerbated as a result. In Corra’s 2019 Poverty Insight Briefing learning from third sector organisations and communities highlighted the impact of social security sanctions as well as the stigma and isolation associated with people’s experiences of poverty.

  • The stigma attached to poverty can hinder the extent people engage with support services, such as food banks and financial advice. Given that these services are likely to experience an increase in demand during Scotland’s recovery from Coronavirus, a focus on rights-based compassionate support will be important to mitigate stigma.
  • Acknowledge that experiences of poverty are different for different people, and factors such as gender, age, ethnicity, religion and geography need to be considered. Past applications to Corra’s Henry Duncan Grants have highlighted the importance of support tailored to specific groups, such as Men’s Sheds for isolated older men or Home Start projects for young parents.
  • Reducing the impact of isolation and loneliness has been a growing trend within grant applications to Corra. In 2018 Corra observed an increase in the proportion of HDG and PDI grants aiming to reduce isolation (43% in 2018 compared to 28% in 2017). Corra welcomed the Scottish Government’s Connected Scotland strategy to tackle loneliness and social isolation in 2018, and would welcome opportunities to engage with this strategy as part of the recovery.

Voice, power and change

The rebuild is an opportunity to put wellbeing at the centre of Scotland’s recovery and it will be important to recognise the contributions of the third sector.

Corra believes that when people have opportunities to participate in their community, decision making and wider society; power shifts enabling people and communities to create the change that matters to them. Across the third sector organisations are developing rights-based participative models of service design and delivery to ensure that voice and experiences is at the heart of informing their approaches. Corra Foundation’s 2015 action research project Everyone Has a Story demonstrated the importance of positive relationships and actively listening to the experiences of young people in order to build a better understanding of their support needs. The value of lived experience in decision making is also reflected within Corra’s lived experience panels (that inform the decision making for grants such as #ShiftThePower Comic Relief Scotland, Partnership Drugs Initiative, Scottish Government’s Challenge Fund).

It will be critical that conversations on Scotland’s future involve listening to those typically furthest from power. This challenge was expressed in Corra Chief Executive Fiona Duncan’s recent blog, that calls upon those with a seat around the decision making table to make room for the voices of communities across Scotland. Corra will continue to explore the role of listening, learning and sharing power as part of the recovery from Covid-19, reflections will be shared using the hashtag #SameStormDifferentBoat.

Place based approaches to recovery 

  • Place based and community wealth building approaches that support local people to shape the decisions in their community was continuing to gather positive momentum prior to the pandemic. For example, in Fernhill (one of the communities Corra works alongside), the Participatory Budgeting process was designed and delivered by the Fernhill Community Kitty group and distributed £10,000 across 10 locally generated projects.
  • The opportunity for Participatory Scotland to build on pre-Covid and emergent levels of community participation is currently being explored with a range of partners, including Local and National Government.
  • This model of working has also been a key part of Scotland’s immediate response to the Coronavirus pandemic. With the Scottish Government’s Supporting Communities Fund supporting anchor organisations to lead on building community resilience at a local level. Corra welcomes the collaborative effort amongst local partners to accelerate community action and would support further conversations to develop these approaches. Particularly building on the groundwork that has already been set out from the Local Governance Review and Democracy Matters Conversations.
  • The Infrastructure Commission for Scotland’s 30-year vision recognises that to achieve an inclusive net zero carbon economy, there is a need to put place at the heart of coherent, infrastructure prioritisation and planning. It is important to consider how communities and organisations have naturally developed local solutions during the crisis, and what opportunities this might open up to achieve this vision.

Flexible Funding

As part of Corra’s 2019 review of the Henry Duncan Grants, charities highlighted the importance of flexible multi-year funding with light touch reporting procedures to enable them to work towards long term positive change. It will be important to consider similar approaches to funding that offer third sector organisations the trust and time needed to support people and communities through the recovery.


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