Opinions

That was the year that was

Written by: Christopher Doyle, Policy and Information Officer, the ALLIANCE

Published: 19/12/2018

Chris highlights three policy areas where the third sector made a big impact this year.

The year of a(nother) royal wedding, that a song about a family of sharks went viral, and when football almost, but not quite “came home”.

You’ll likely have your own abiding memories that’ll come to mind when you think back on 2018.

The same is true of the working year. For many third sector policy folk, this might include countless hours spent trying to get your head around the finer details of the GDPR. Or familiarising yourself with how to make sure you stay on the right side of the new Lobbying Registrar.

In terms of big policy developments, no review of 2018 could fail to mention the passing of the Social Security (Scotland) Bill into law, which paved the way for the creation of a devolved Scottish social security system.

The Scottish Government set out its stall early on about its desire to create a system with dignity and fairness at its heart.

The legislative process saw the third sector holding the Government to this promise. For example, MND Scotland and Marie Curie ran a successful campaign to remove the so called “6 month rule” in order to introduce a new, fairer definition of terminal illness based on clinical judgement.

The sector’s efforts also resulted in improved access to independent advocacy for disabled people in the new system. Given the Government’s original starting position this was, without question, a ‘big win’, but one which the ALLIANCE believed should have gone further.

2018 saw the publication of the Scottish Government’s long-awaited Suicide Prevention Action Plan. It’s fair to say that the initial ‘engagement paper’ left many feeling disappointed at the scope of some of the proposed actions.

Thankfully, and not by coincidence, the eventual publication struck a far more ambitious tone. It reflected many of the key ‘asks’ put forward by third sector organisations and people who had been directly affected by the issue.

This was also the year that support for people living with neurological conditions was bumped up the political agenda, thanks in no small part to sustained campaigning efforts by a range of charities.

Revised national standards for neurological care and the development of Scotland’s first ever Action Plan for neurological conditions (currently out for consultation) offers the prospect of a step change in the care, treatment and support that people and their families will be able to access.

What will the lasting policy legacy of 2018 be? That’s always a difficult thing to try and predict. Ask me again in 5 or 10 years when I’ve got the benefit of hindsight.

What is clear though is that, as ever, many of the key ‘outputs’ of this year bear the hallmark of positive and significant third sector influence. Let’s hope for more of the same in 2019.

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