The voluntary sector will be expected to meet public service demands over the next five years, according to new research from the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) with charity chief executives.
The vast majority (91%) of sector leaders believe that charities will be expected to fill gaps in providing public services. This news comes amid increasing concerns about household finances.
CAF’s Charity Landscape report shows that three quarters (71%) of charity leaders believe the public is more aware of their contribution to society because of the pandemic, and nearly two thirds (64%) think that the Government sees charities as vital connections to local communities. However, fewer than a third (31%) think the Government values their contribution to public policy, and fewer than one in three (29%) believe that charities are seen as a source of insight to help plan for future crises.
The research found that financial sustainability is the main challenge for the majority (58%) of charity leaders, but nearly two thirds (64%) of them are pessimistic about Government support for the sector.
Three in four (75%) charity leaders stated that demand for their organisation’s services had increased during the pandemic, and against the backdrop of strained household finances, nine in ten (86%) anticipated that demand is likely to increase. Although most (80%) are confident that their organisation could meet demand, only half (50%) are optimistic about the future of the charity sector overall.
Neil Heslop OBE, Chief Executive of the Charities Aid Foundation, said:
“The last two years have reminded all of us that charities form the backbone of our society and the contribution they make to our communities and wider society is undeniable. It’s clear that charity leaders feel unsettled and now is time for charities to take stock of what they need to do to rebuild their finances and reset their relationships with volunteers, donors and the Government.
“With their in-depth local knowledge and on-the-ground networks, charities are in an ideal position to help the Government achieve the 12 missions announced last week to level up the nation.
“Charity leaders will also be concerned about the impact that the strain on household finances could have on demand for their services. It’s vital that charities feel supported as they continue to meet the needs of their communities over the next few months.”
The Charity Landscape report found that views of charity leaders varied considerably in the UK’s devolved nations:
- Three quarters (74%) of English charity leaders are pessimistic about government support, compared to two fifths (42%) of leaders in Scotland and more than half (57%) in Northern Ireland.
- Charities based in Scotland (47%) and Northern Ireland (38%) believe that the government value charities for their contribution to the development of public policy, compared to only a quarter (25%) in England.
- Over the next five years, 77% of chief executives in Scotland and 81% in Northern Ireland believe the government will view charities as providers in the public sector commissioning process. This compares to 64% of their English counterparts.
- In Scotland, 80% of charity leaders believe that government sees charities as vital connections to local communities, compared to 64% across the UK.