Disproportionate cuts to charities are being made by half of local authorities, report finds

James Allen of Compact Voice says evidence of a lack of impact assessment has also been uncovered in responses from 293 councils in England

James Allen
James Allen

Half of local authorities have made disproportionate cuts to the voluntary sector, according to a new report.

Compact Voice, which represents charities on the Compact, used the Freedom of Information Act to question in July 352 local authorities in England about cuts they had made to voluntary sector funding.

Of the 293 that responded, Compact Voice says, half revealed they had made reductions in grant funding to the voluntary sector that are disproportionate to the amount their own budgets have been reduced.

The Compact Voice report on the findings says that voluntary sector organisations are being given fewer opportunities to deliver council services and that the amount local authorities spend on contracts with charities has fallen.

Compact Voice also found that 56 per cent of local authorities said they had reduced the amount of grant funding for voluntary sector organisations between 2011/12 and 2012/13.

Slightly more than a third, 35.5 per cent, said they had increased grant funding over the same period.

The Department for Communities and Local Government last year set out its best-value guidance, which warned local authorities not to make disproportionate cuts to the voluntary sector.

"Half the councils we spoke to continue to see the voluntary sector as a soft target for spending cuts, with disproportionate cuts common and a worrying lack of impact assessment," said James Allen, head of Compact Voice. "CLG should look at how it is enforcing its best-value guidance, because many areas, it seems, are not being compelled to follow it."

A spokesman for the Local Government Association, which represents local authorities, said it had to work with a range of service providers to deliver the best outcomes.

"Councils have really tough decisions to make across the board in order to deliver vital services to local people," he said. "We value the work of the voluntary sector and we work closely with it to make locally relevant decisions about funding."

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