Report highlights worrying levels of disproportionate cuts to grant funding to the voluntary sector
A report has highlighted that half of local authorities are cutting grant funding to the voluntary sector disproportionately, compared to the amount their own budgets are being reduced.
The report, produced by Compact Voice, reveals that despite statutory guidance issued by the Department for Communities and Local Government, the local voluntary sector continues to be seen as a soft target for budget reduction.
The report was based on figures taken from a comprehensive Freedom of Information Act campaign which took place over the summer.
The report also found that the amount of spending through direct contracts with the voluntary sector has reduced, prompting concerns that overall funding to local voluntary sector groups has fallen significantly and that there are now fewer opportunities for these groups to deliver services.
However, the report also shows that despite challenging financial pressures, many local areas are following the principles of the Compact and the Department for Communities and Local Government’s Best Value Guidance. Some local authorities are engaging well with local communities through consultation, giving adequate notice about potential changes to funding, and conducting impact assessments.
James Allen, Head of Compact Voice, said:
“The fact that so many local areas continue to uphold the principles of the Compact is reassuring, and should provide sufficient motivation to encourage others that it is possible. The Department for Communities and Local Government should look at how they are enforcing their Best Value Guidance, as many areas are seemingly not being compelled to follow it.”
Neil Cleevely, Director of Policy and Communications at NAVCA said:
“This is really valuable work by Compact Voice. Using Freedom of Information requests, they have produced the most comprehensive picture of local authority investment in the voluntary sector. There are too many areas where disproportionate cuts have been made but what is more important is that over a third of authorities increased their grant funding available to local charities and community groups. This proves that disproportionate cuts can be avoided if there is a political will.”
The report also highlights concerns with how Freedom of Information requests are handled by local authorities, and makes a number of recommendations about how local statutory and voluntary sector partners can share information more effectively.
Access the report – along with all of the data collected – at www.compactvoice.org.uk/FOI2012