Autumn statement brings little cheer to the sector

Sector leaders warn of bleak prospects for an increase in funding

Ben Kernighan, deputy chief executive of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations
Ben Kernighan, deputy chief executive of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations

The Chancellor’s autumn statement has brought little prospect of growth for the third sector, senior sector figures have warned.

The statement contained few announcements of particular relevance to the voluntary sector.

Ben Kernighan, deputy chief executive of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, said the most significant message was that difficult economic conditions were likely to remain.

"Reductions in terms of public funding mean more cuts," he said. "We’ve only had one year of planned reductions in public budgets out of three. There’s going to be worse to come.

"There will be no increase in public spending in the foreseeable future. The prospect of an increase in sector funding in the short to medium term is pretty bleak."

Dan Corry, chief executive of the think tank New Philanthropy Capital, said times were going to be tough for charities.

"Charities that have weathered the storm so far now know they will have to work very hard to cope as need increases and funding and contracts get harder to find," he said.

"Running down reserves and making easy cutbacks will no longer do. The worry is that it will be the very people that charities are there to help who will bear the brunt."

However, Kernighan said there were announcements in the statement that might benefit charities, including measures to deal with youth unemployment, and a review of the Tupe regulations, which govern the transfer of staff between organisations. This might reduce the level of cost and uncertainty for charities taking on public sector contract, he said.

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