An independent evaluation of Voluntary Action Scotland, the national network supporting Third Sector Interfaces (TSIs), by APS Group Scotland (led by Blake Stevenson) has been published by the Scottish Government. The evaluation highlights weaknesses in the effectiveness of VAS, but concludes that the TSI network requires an intermediary body and that the Scottish Government should continue to support VAS, with new partnership agreements and the continuation of recent changes in its governance.
Responses to the report have been widely differing. A story in Third Force News (TFN) (published by SCVO, who used to perform similar functions to VAS) describes it as ‘damning’ and its headline reports that an ‘official report’ ‘slams’ VAS. In response Senscot has described that TFN story as “a completely unbalanced piece – full of unattributed accusations” and says the report “is much more balanced”. (TFN has since amended the story to make it clear the report was commissioned, not written, by the Scottish Government).
Acting VAS chief executive Allan Johnstone said the recommendations would “form part of the discussions in taking VAS forward in 2017 … the report doesn’t acknowledge a lot of the work we’ve done in terms of the organisational side. In the last 18 months we’ve done a lot of work … We have updated finance, staffing, governance”. A Scottish Government spokesman told TFN “Over the next six months, we will hold a number of stakeholder events and discussions to examine how our local third sector infrastructure is organised and how it can be improved. Following this wider engagement, we will draw together recommendations for improvement to be implemented from 2018/19 onwards.”