Charities could go to the wall while waiting for decisions to be made on public sector funding, according to Sir Stuart Etherington, chief executive of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations.
Etherington told delegates at the NCVO’s annual conference in London yesterday that many voluntary sector organisations were not financially resilient enough to survive in difficult times.
"If a grant or contract that was due for renewal on 1 April is not renewed, and the voluntary organisation that had that funding is only told in March, then they will have no way of properly managing the end of that service, or even the winding up of their organisation," he said.
"Or if funding is suspended for three months while a local authority decides what the new terms should be, there is a real possibility that a charity that was delivering a highly regarded local service will simply not be there to bid for the new funding three months down the line."
Etherington said that he, and many others in the sector, supported the aims of the big society agenda, but that severe public spending cuts meant there was a "very real danger" that some voluntary organisations would not be able to make a contribution.
He also called for the £100m Transition Fund to be doubled because it would ensure "good voluntary organisations do not go to the wall".
Etherington defined the big society as power and decision-making being "devolved to local people and local communities" as well as a "greater role for voluntary and community action".
He added that the voluntary sector needed to "move on from what appear to be endless discussions about what it is – and actually focus on delivering it".