New liaison post to ‘better balance’ links between council and third sector

Fife Voluntary Action is to recruit a new liaison officer to better manage the relationship between local charities and the council.

By Jon Brady, Local Democracy Reporting Service
Tuesday, 31st August 2021, 8:24 pm
Updated Tuesday, 31st August 2021, 8:25 pm

The local representation body will be given £45,000 sourced from council budgets to appoint someone to the post for a year on a trial basis.

It comes after the council and FVA were heavily criticised for their handling of the recommissioning of local charity services for families in Fife earlier this year.

Kenny Murphy, chief executive of FVA, said third-sector (non-profit) groups could help deliver the "best quality services" for local people.

Kenny Murphy, chief executive of Fife Voluntary Action

"Council officers are under a lot of pressure with heavy workloads - so any offer of support from us will be gratefully received," he noted.

"We've got good working relationships - in some cases exceptionally strong - but there's always room for improvement."

Fife Council, together with the health and social care partnership, already provides millions of pounds of funding to third-sector bodies who provide services on its behalf in areas such as health, social care and education.

The local authority also offers subsidised leases for council buildings to charities looking for premises.

And while the relationship between the council and local non-profits is largely positive, a recent decision to cut £410,000 from the cash it gives to groups dealing with family issues was criticised as short-sighted and poorly thought out

It later stalled on the decision following pressure from voluntary groups who felt they had not been consulted properly.

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The liaison officer will be tasked with ensuring that any bodies affected by future changes to the council's third sector strategy are properly consulted and supported, in order to avoid rows like the one that emerged earlier this year. However, work to identify the need for the role has been ongoing for more than two years.

Councils and charities are likely to work together more than ever after joining forces to serve communities during the coronavirus pandemic - a phenomenon that has not gone unnoticed nationally.

Earlier this year, council umbrella body Cosla, the Scottish Government and the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations forged a new partnership to formalise the relationship between local authorities and non-profits.

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