More local infrastructure bodies merge

Two local voluntary action groups in Yorkshire have merged to pool resources and save money by uniting their back offices. The move follows the decision by five councils for voluntary service in Cumbria to merge to form England's first county-wide CVS.

Scarborough District Council for Voluntary Service and Whitby and District Voluntary Action will become Coast and Moors Voluntary Action, though they will retain offices in each district.

The two organisations employ a total of 35 staff. “Three or four” redundancies were made at the end of last year as part of the “merger process”, according to Richard Weightman, Coast and Moors Voluntary Action membership and partnership manager.

He added that the services offered by the new organisation would become more efficient by being offered across a wider area.

“We can look at extending our services across the borough, we can be more effective – it’s an opportunity to put our resources together, our back office functions are brought together,” Weightman said. “We will be sitting down with our members and asking ‘what additional services do you want us to offer?’”

Kevin Curley, chief executive of the National Association for Voluntary and Community Action, said there was currently a trend for local infrastructure organisations to merge in order to cut costs.

“There are a range of reasons including the drive to make efficiency savings on overhead costs and back office functions – for example, you only need one set of accounts and one IT system,” he said.

Curley added that in some cases mergers were happening because councils preferred to have “one relationship” rather than a number of separate contracts.

But he also warned that “unscrupulous funders” may use mergers as an excuse to reduce funding because merged organisations would be able to cut down on costs.

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