The CYPFEI & ALEC Fund is supporting the core services and infrastructure of 118 national third sector organisations over the period April 2016 to March 2019. The Fund aims to contribute to national outcomes and reflects the Scottish Government's policy on children, young people, families, adult and community learning including GIRFEC and the Adult Learning in Scotland Statement of Ambition. The Fund also addresses key approaches promoted by the Scottish Government including prevention and early intervention, and joined-up working. This baseline report is part of the formative evaluation of the Fund which aims to assess whether the overall vision for the Fund is achieved and to inform future decisions around this area of funding. This report has summarised the initial evaluation findings, drawing on a wide range of evidence including a self‑assessment survey completed by 103 of the funded organisations and consultations with the sample of twelve funded organisations, seven Policy Officers and six stakeholders.
The self-assessment survey has provided a baseline of the strengths, weaknesses and views of the national third sector organisations supported by the Fund. Overall, the survey showed that organisations identified many more strengths than weaknesses as summarised in the table below and the graph in the Appendix. Respondents gave the most positive ratings to prevention and early intervention and the way this is embedded in their work (9.0 out of 10), as well as their understanding and integration of equality issues (8.8). The themes rated least positively overall were financial sustainability and funding (6.5) followed by involvement in local and national structures (7.1).
|On a scale of one to ten, please rate…||Average rating|
|Prevention and early intervention||9.0|
|Knowledge, skills and capacity||8.1|
|Joint working with third sector organisations||7.9|
|Interaction with Scottish Government||7.6|
|Involvement in local groups and national structures||7.1|
|Financial sustainability and funding||6.5|
The consultation findings summarised in sections 2 to 5 of this report support the survey findings and highlight additional issues which will be assessed throughout the evaluation. In section 2, third sector organisations identified capacity issues as a significant challenge resulting from financial pressures and increasing demand for services driven by social and economic conditions and policy developments. Generally, skills and knowledge within the organisations were viewed as strong, with consultees commending the expertise that exists in the organisations, although some skills gaps and shortages were noted. It was also reported in section 2 that organisations were committed to equality and diversity, with a number of the organisations established with the aim of promoting and protecting the rights of specific minority groups. There was, however, a suggestion that some smaller organisations may find it more difficult to articulate their approach.
One of the key questions to be assessed by the evaluation is whether embedding early intervention and prevention in the ethos of organisations supported by the Fund have been sustained or improved, and if so, what was the Fund's contribution, and what has the impact been. Section 3 highlighted that at the outset of the Fund, prevention and early intervention are important to national third sector organisations and embedded in their delivery. Generally, the funded organisations suggested the CYPFEI & ALEC Fund will maintain and enhance their prevention and early intervention focus with examples provided of their own work and how they seek to influence partners. Some organisations identified increasing demand for frontline services, leading to capacity issues, as a constraint on their prevention and early intervention work.
Section 4 highlighted that overall third sector organisations work well with other organisations in the sector. It was, however, reported that decreasing funding and increasing competition has led some third sector organisations to reassess information sharing with other organisations in the sector. At this stage it is too early to address the evaluation question of whether formal and informal partnerships between third sector organisations have arisen as a result of being part of the Fund, or any impact these partnerships might have. However, a Policy Officer and Lloyds TSB Foundation for Scotland highlighted an example of how this may occur with planned activity involving a small number of organisations working in one particular policy area. Section 4 also noted that positive relationships generally exist between third sector organisations and the Scottish Government/Education Scotland. However, there was a view that this is limited to one or two key contacts and information dissemination by the Scottish Government/Education Scotland could be more consistent. Positive views about the Policy Officers assigned to third sector organisations as part of the Fund were reported, the main benefits of which are envisaged as greater understanding and mutually beneficial communications around policy issues.
One of the questions to be addressed by the evaluation is whether the Fund has impacted on internal Scottish Government processes and ways of working, including the third sector having opportunities to co-produce and add value to the development of Scottish Government policy. The early evidence is positive, for example, one of the stakeholders explained how the Board that met to discuss allocations - consisting of internal and external representatives - had influenced some of the decisions, and commended the process. Consultees involved in the Short Term Working Group that informed the development of the Fund also commented positively on the process; others commented that they would have welcomed the opportunity to be involved if they had the capacity to do so.
"The development of the Fund was very good, it was not done to us, it was very open and was the diametric opposite of some other funds". (Stakeholder).
There was also a view that closer working relationships between third sector organisations as well as with the Scottish Government have been promoted by the Fund.
"I would hope it will lead to a healthier system with much healthier relationships, better flows of information that inform better decision making and with the voice of communities much more articulated". (Stakeholder).
Section 5 noted that third sector organisations warmly welcomed the Fund's support for core services and infrastructure in light of the prevailing financial climate and that this is adding to organisational capacity, which it is envisaged will help to enhance prevention and early intervention and joint working. This therefore provides early evidence in response to the evaluation question of whether the capacity, skills and knowledge of the third sector improved as a result of being part of this funding programme, and if so, what the impact has been. Financial sustainability was generally regarded as challenging although there were some examples of how the Fund is assisting organisations to identify alternative funding sources.
One of the key questions to be assessed by the evaluation is how the Fund as a whole contributes at a national level towards improving outcomes for beneficiaries. At this very early stage it is clearly too soon to answer this question. The majority of consultees suggested that the Fund would contribute to improving outcomes for beneficiaries of each organisation and therefore there would be a collective national level impact. However, they cautioned that the CYPFEI & ALEC Fund represents a relatively small percentage of the overall income of the majority of the funded organisations and the impact would therefore be proportionate. In addition, while they agreed that the Fund is aligned with the national outcomes they emphasised that any impact would be proportionate to other funding, initiatives and policy developments, and would only be evident over time. The difficulty of measuring attribution and of the impact of secondary organisations supported by the Fund was raised by some consultees.
This baseline report is part of a formative evaluation of the Fund and its findings will be re-visited as the evaluation progresses. It is also hoped the findings will inform the work of the Stakeholder Group and the learning and development programme to be delivered by Lloyds TSB Foundation.
Email: Steven Fogg
Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit
The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House