Biennial poll finds charities sceptical about many policies and rethinking their role and structure amid funding cuts
The government's policies and performance on the voluntary sector have sparked little enthusiasm so far among the people who work in it, the latest State of the Sector survey indicates.
Only 8 per cent of respondents think the government's general proposition is "coherent and promising", and only 12 per cent think the coalition will be better for the sector than another Labour administration would have been (see charts, below).
On the other hand, half of respondents think the cuts affecting the sector would have been made by a Labour government as well, and nearly a third think the big society agenda offers opportunities for the sector.
The survey, conducted by Third Sector and the research consultancy NfpSynergy, also shows that few respondents think 15 government policies and initiatives are having a significant impact.
Moves to allow Gift Aid claims of up to £5,000 without declarations and concessions on inheritance tax are the most popular, followed by the Giving White Paper and the Transition Fund, but otherwise no policy gains an approval rate of more than 10 per cent.
In all cases, the majority respond that the policy would have no impact, that it is too early to tell or that they don't know. But no policy attracts an "impact for the worse" verdict from more than 10 per cent of respondents.
Comments from respondents
- There were nearly 300 responses to the question: "What government initiative or policy change would you like to see that would make a positive difference to your organisation?"
- Improving VAT relief for charities, simplifying or improving Gift Aid and ensuring a better deal for the sector on government contracts were the top three requests from those who answered the question.
- Thirty respondents urged the government to relax the rules to allow charities to reclaim more VAT. Fifteen called for the improvement of Gift Aid, and 14 for a better deal for the sector when competing with corporates for contracts.
- Eleven respondents called for improved US-style incentives for giving and philanthropy, including better tax breaks for donors, the introduction of lifetime legacies and increased promotion of legacy giving.
- Seven called for the general cutting of red tape for charities, and five urged the government to recognise that its agenda for the big society could not be implemented without funding.
- Four argued for measures to improve relations between the sector and local government, three said employers should be obliged to provide payroll giving schemes and three called for recognition that grants can be an effective method of statutory funding.
WHO TOOK PART?
More than 700 people - 540 gave job details: 58 per cent of these were chief executives or senior managers, 16 per cent team managers, 7 per cent trustees and 7 per cent project workers. Forty-one per cent were in charities with one to 25 staff; 22 per cent 26 to 100; and 12 per cent more than 1,000. Thirty-eight per cent were in organisations turning over less than £1m; 29 per cent £1m to £5m; and 12 per cent more than £51m.