Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP Willie Rennie has today said that the Scottish Government must introduce a "license to criticise" guarantee to ensure that the rights of organisations who receive government funding are protected.
His call comes after The Times reported that two organisations, Shelter Scotland and Victim Support Scotland, have confirmed they face curbs under their government funding deal. The Times reports that the terms in Victim Support Scotland’s funding letter say: “No part of the grant shall be used to fund any activity or material which is party political in intention, use, or presentation or appears to be designed to affect support for a political party.”
Mr Rennie said:
"This is not the first time that this worry has arisen. The idea that Scottish Government funding could be reserved for cowed and compliant organisations would be deeply troubling for public debate in Scotland and I am glad to see Shelter Scotland and others push back.
"There are many third sector organisations who depend on the Scottish Government for funding. They should have the absolute freedom to criticise government policy and hold those in power to account.
"The time has come to re-affirm that principle. Scotland should introduce a "license to criticise" guarantee to ensure that the rights of organisations who receive Scottish Government funding are protected.
"The services we rely on will be worse off if organisations are concerned that speaking out will have implications for their future funding and survival."