COSLA and the Scottish Government thank the Chair and Advisory Group for the breadth of work done. Their report, robustly informed by engagement with stakeholders including many victim/survivors of violence against women and girls (VAWG), recognises the significant progress and funding that has been harnessed to tackle all forms of VAWG over the past decades and concludes more needs to be done. COSLA and the Scottish Government agree that it is vital that we remain focussed on addressing this blight on our society and that a stable and flexible funding model is necessary.
Our Equally Safe strategy to prevent and eradicate violence against women and girls has been co-owned by the Scottish Government and COSLA since 2014.
The Scottish Government commissioned the Independent Strategic Review of Funding and Commissioning of VAWG Services to provide recommendations on the funding and procurement of VAWG services which would enable the development of a more consistent, coherent, collective and stable funding model that worked effectively and efficiently to improve outcomes both for those using support services and in the sphere of prevention. As such, we acknowledge the immediate priorities identified, and will begin by concentrating on those funding and procurement recommendations. We will do this together with The Verity House Agreement providing a framework for us to work within.
We acknowledge the scale and importance of the task before us and recognise we must work collaboratively and with partners and expert stakeholders from across the public sector to ensure the sustainability of funding in the future. A Project Board comprising key officials from COSLA and Scottish Government along with public sector and specialist stakeholders is being formed to oversee this work. The Project Board will report to the Equally Safe Joint Strategic Board, of which the Minister for Victims and Community Safety and COSLA’s Spokesperson on Community Wellbeing are co-chairs.
Our first task will be to begin implementation of recommendation 15, that the Scottish Government and COSLA should work together, along with key stakeholders such as the Violence Against Women Partnerships to produce an accurate assessment of the current costs of Violence Against Women and children and young people to the public purse nationally and locally. This, along with the assessment of other funding and procurement recommendations, will enable the development of a timed action plan, underpinned by an understanding of the level of investment in relevant services in each local authority area and what services are provided. This will help deliver a sustainable and robust funding model by building the picture of provision of funding and commissioning, both locally and nationally, reflecting local needs and circumstances and highlighting any gaps.
Actions towards this will be contained within the next Equally Safe Delivery Plan which will be published in April 2024.
Work has been underway for some time, via the leadership of the Joint Strategic Board, to ensure the Equally Safe Strategy is fit for today and beyond. This is an overarching approach between Scottish Government and COSLA and the information contained within the Review’s report will be considered under our ongoing implementation of the strategy.
Siobhan Brown MSP, Minister for Victims and Community Safety
Councillor Maureen Chalmers, COSLA Community and Wellbeing Spokesperson