Compact Voice releases information about cuts in funding to the voluntary and community sector

image of person at eventThere has been a significant amount of recent scrutiny on the impact of cuts to the voluntary and community sector, and Compact Voice has been working with areas to try and understand the extent and the impact that such cuts have had on local partnerships.
 
Earlier this year, we submitted two Freedom of Information requests to 351 local authorities in England.

We asked them a number of questions, including:

  • The extent of their cuts to both grants and contracts to the voluntary sector,
  • The percentage of cuts to their overall settlements, and
  • What engagement they have had with voluntary and community sector organisations which are being affected by proposed cuts.

Today we are making the results of these requests available.
 
The results provided a mixed picture about how the sector is being affected by spending cuts, with little standing out as indicating a national trend. As might be expected, different areas have dealt with spending decisions in different ways. The results of these requests - along with other local information such as Compact area, political control, and region - is available in .csv format at the link below, and may provide useful information about local spending decisions. We hope to build on this information in the future, providing more data about local areas and Compacts as we gather it.
 
As stated, national trends were difficult to determine, although some key issues were revealed by the data we received:

  • Of the two requests we sent out to 351 areas, only 130 areas responded to both. This is alarming considering that there is a legal requirement to respond to FOI requests, subject to reasonable costs required to gather the information. Some areas replied saying that they did not hold this information, others that it would cost too much to respond. 63% of areas failed to send any information to one or both of the requests.
  • The questions were designed to be easily answered, however the wide range of answers and interpretations provided was considerable, and meant that consistent information was difficult to compile. As a result, we have had to interpret some of the answers received in order to include it with the rest of the data. If areas believe this information has been interpreted incorrectly, we are happy to receive clarification.
  • Many responses indicated that the information we requested was not held, and we believe that as standard practice, local areas should routinely record the levels of grants and contracts provided to the VCS.
  • In some instances, we received responses in February which said spending decisions had not yet been made yet, which could imply that any changes to funding for the next financial year would be given with less than the standard three months notice.

From the areas that did provide us with information, we have been able to determine the following:

  • Over 50% of local areas have stated that they have made cuts disproportionately to the changes to their settlement; this means any reduction in the overall percentage of grants/contract spending is greater than the percentage reduction in their settlement. This is an alarming figure, and goes against the advice and guidance provided across government, as well as in the national Compact and many local Compacts.
  • Under 4% of areas who responded indicated that they had made cuts with less than three months notice. However, while this seems reassuring, some areas made reference to notice being provided as advance warning that cuts were possible, which would not always count as meaningful engagement when changing or ending funding relationships. Additionally, around 14% replied to our FOI request, but did not disclose how much notice they had given.
  • Around 34% of responses indicated that they had made no changes to their funding provided to the voluntary and community sector. Many of the responses indicated a real-term increase in funding if levels have remained the same as they were last year.

There were gaps in the responses received - either as a result of information not being held, not disclosed to us, or no replies being sent to us at all. This has left us without a clear picture, and plenty of room for speculation and interpretation. It might be easy to speculate that:

  • those areas who did not respond at all might not have done so because they were more likely to be making disproportionate cuts
  • those areas which had not made decisions about spending cuts were likely to breach Compact principles on engagement when changing or ending funding decisions
  • areas where information about engagement with the sector was not held were less likely to have strong partnerships

However, without seeking further information from those areas that did not provide us with clear answers, we cannot know for certain whether there is a correlation between the bad practice many in the sector are concerned might be happening locally and any gaps in our understanding of the local picture. In some cases, we will be working with local areas and partnerships in order to better understand what is happening, and how local Compacts can help.
 
The information we have provided in the spreadsheet below has been gathered from a variety of sources, with some information interpreted. It is possible that errors may have crept into the data, or that the data provided was inaccurate - if there are errors or omissions in the data, please contact us at compact@compactvoice.org.uk, and we will be happy to make amends and corrections.
 
We are providing the information in the hope that it will be useful, and that it will assist with local and national partnership and policy activities. Please let us know if you use this data, (attributing it to Compact Voice if you do). We are happy to provide any help we can to assist you in using it.
 
Compact Voice will be using this information alongside the data we gathered as part of our annual Compact survey of the health of local Compacts. We will be identifying areas where we can work in collaboration with local Compact groups to help develop and improve partnership working, and will also use the information to help inform our national policy work with government. Thank you to all of the areas who provided us with information.

Download the Freedom of Information Act responses here (.CSV).
Note: if you are using a browser such as Chrome or Firefox, you'll need to save the link to your desktop (right click and select 'save link as') and open it from there.

Notes about column headings:

Authority Name Name of authority
LA Code Office for National Statistics code
FOI 1 Response received to first FOI request (about amount of cuts)?
FOI 2 Response received to second FOI request (about engagement and notice with the sector about cuts)?
FOI All Response received to both FOI requests?
Compact Which Compact is used in the authority area
Region Which region the authority is in
Which region the authority is inAuthority Type The type of authority, from a list of county, district, London borough, metropolitan, or unitary
County Which county the authority area is in
Political Control Which political party controls the authority area (coalition authorities noted, NOC means ‘no overall control’)
Control Type Authority control type, either mayor led, leader led, or alternative arrangement
Grants 2010 £ The amount of funding in 2010 to the voluntary sector in grants
Contracts 2010 £ The amount of funding in 2010 to the voluntary sector in contracts
Total 2010 % The total amount of funding in % through grants and contracts to the voluntary sector in 2010
Total 2010 £ The total £ of the authority's budget funded to the voluntary and community sector in 2010
Settlement 2010  The total settlement the authority received in 2010
Grants 2011 £ The amount of funding in 2011 to the voluntary sector in grants
Contracts 2011 £ The amount of funding in 2011 to the voluntary sector in contracts
Total 2011 % The total amount of funding in £ through grants and contracts to the voluntary sector in 2011
Total 2011 £ The total % of the authority's budget funded to the voluntary and community sector in 2011
Settlement 2011 The total settlement the authority received in 2011
Grants Change 2010-11 £ The change in £ funding to the voluntary and community sector in grants between 2010 and 2011
Contracts - Change 2010-11 £ The change in £ funding to the voluntary and community sector in contracts between 2010 and 2011
Total Change £ The combined change in spending to the voluntary and community sector in grants and contracts between 2010 and 2011
% Total Sector Change The % change in funding to the voluntary and community sector through grants and contracts as part of the overall budget, between 2010 and 2011
Settlement Change The change in £ in the settlement received by the authority area between 2010 and 2011
% Total Settlement Change The change in % in the settlement received by the authority area between 2010 and 2011
Proportionate? Whether the change in funding to the voluntary and community sector was less than or greater than the overall change in settlement funding to the local area - Y means the settlement change was less than or equal to any reduction in settlement, N means the cuts to the sector were higher than the difference in settlement – and therefore disproportionate
QA Average notice (months)  The amount of notice in months given to the voluntary and community sector to potential changes to their funding
QB No consultation The amount of changes made to voluntary and community sector funding which took place without consultation
QC Consultation responses The amount of responses received to any consultations issued about changes to voluntary and community sector funding