Bleak outlook for voluntary sector
With concerns mounting that charities got a raw deal from this week’s Budget, our new Charity Forecast survey suggests that the vast majority of voluntary sector leaders are pessimistic about the year ahead.
Our latest Charity Forecast Survey, published on Thursday 23 March, shows that 90% of respondents think economic conditions in the voluntary sector will be get worse over the next 12 months. Over half (52%) expect their own charity’s financial situation to get worse over the next year and 47% plan to decrease their expenditure.
The survey paints a disheartening picture of many charities having to dip deep into their reserves and scale back their activity, whilst juggling a triple whammy of rising costs, falling income and escalating demand for their services. One respondent said:
'The "rainy day" has really arrived. Goodness knows what the future holds but it looks bleak.' Another warns: 'Cuts to the voluntary sector and the services we provide to our local communities are a short term fix for government. Who will pay the longer term price? Local people will be impoverished and their suffering will continue long after the politicians move on.'
Commenting on the findings, Sir Stuart Etherington, Chief Executive of NCVO, said:
'While confidence levels have inched up slightly since the last quarter, the overall picture for the voluntary sector remains grim, and the Budget offered little comfort for charities currently struggling against a tide of multiple financial pressures.
'The Government needs to send a strong message to the charity sector that it will support the vital services it provides, but instead yesterday’s Budget sent out mixed messages which seem to be at odds with their Big Society vision.'
Other findings from the quarterly survey include:
- Thirty-two per cent of respondents plan to increase the extent of services they offer over the next three months. This suggests that charities are continuing to service high levels of recession-driven demand, despite lacking resources.
- Twenty-eight per cent of respondents have plans to decrease paid staff numbers over the next three months.
- Seventy-four per cent of respondents expect to collaborate more with other organisations over the next 12 months – the highest point since February 2009. 64% expect to compete more.