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24 January 2013

(S4O-01734) Scottish Household Survey (Volunteering)

6. Stewart Stevenson (Banffshire and Buchan Coast) (SNP):

To ask the Scottish Government what its position is on the recent Scottish household survey suggesting that up to 30 per cent of adults volunteer. (S4O-01734)

The Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Employment and Sustainable Growth (John Swinney): The Scottish household survey captures the percentage of adults in Scotland who volunteer in a formal way. We know that many people also volunteer in an informal way through helping friends or neighbours. In reality, the percentage of people who volunteer will be higher than the survey suggests.

Stewart Stevenson: I am delighted to hear that the figure may be even higher. In the past year, we have had very successful volunteering around the Olympic games. The 2014 Commonwealth games will soon start recruiting its team of volunteers. What lessons can Scotland learn from the volunteering practices of the Olympic games and how can that serve to encourage others to involve themselves in volunteering at community level in general?

John Swinney: On the specific point around the lessons learned from the London 2012 experience, the 2014 organising committee has worked closely with the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games to learn lessons from the London experience. That has flowed through into the opening of the volunteer recruitment programme for the Glasgow games in 2014, which has got off to a really good start in terms of the interest and involvement of members of the public. Clearly, we would encourage more individuals to volunteer for the Commonwealth games, which will be a tremendously exciting and dynamic opportunity for volunteering, as were the London games.

In general, of course, the Government values enormously the contribution that volunteers make to the provision of services and support to individuals in our society and recognises the significant contribution that individuals make in that regard.

Fiona McLeod (Strathkelvin and Bearsden) (SNP): I and some other members of the Scottish Parliament have volunteered to be volunteers at the Commonwealth games. Will the cabinet secretary join me in encouraging employers to help folk to attend training for being volunteers for the wonderful opportunity in 2014?

John Swinney: I certainly echo those sentiments. I can confirm that the Scottish Government has amended its staff special leave policy to allow staff to take up to five days special leave to volunteer at the games. Although it is not within my province, I understand that the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body has taken a similar decision. The games are such a unique opportunity for Glasgow and the people of Scotland that a positive response from employers would be very welcome. From my experience of encountering volunteers who participated in the London games, I know that it was clearly a landmark occasion in their lives. I encourage employers to make volunteering for the Commonwealth games possible and practical for members of their staff in Scotland.

9 January 2013

(S4O-01663) National Performing Companies and Cultural Collections (Support)

5. Stewart Stevenson (Banffshire and Buchan Coast) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Government what it is doing to support national performing companies and cultural collections. (S4O-01663)

The Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs (Fiona Hyslop):

The Scottish Government places great importance on supporting our five national performing companies and our national collections. I have managed to protect their budgets over the spending review period, keeping reductions as low as possible.

The Scottish Government’s draft 0 3-14 budget sets out support of £23.6 million for the national performing companies and £72.9 million for the cultural collections. Within that, I have managed to protect the £350,000 international touring fund to ensure that our performing companies can continue to operate abroad. The Royal Scottish National Orchestra, for example, has just completed a highly successful tour of China, promoting its great music and Scotland.

Stewart Stevenson: The support that the cabinet secretary indicated is welcome, but will she also indicate what provision the Government is making to support repairs and maintenance of existing cultural collections in particular?

Fiona Hyslop: Clearly, repairs and maintenance put pressure on the capital budget. The 2013-14 draft budget that has been set out includes a capital budget of £17 million, which is almost double the £8.7 million that was allocated in the 2011 spending review. Of that, £6.7 million has been allocated to the collections to support capital projects.

As part of John Swinney’s announcement on 19 December, I managed to secure a further £4 million in 2013-14 for capital projects for the national collections and performing companies. It is essential that the fabric of our national collections and the provision for them and our companies are in a state that allows us to maintain the high-quality, world-class offering that we have.

Stewart Stevenson
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