Local infrastructure groups have become more pessimistic about their own future, but more optimistic about the prospects for the voluntary and community sector generally, according to the latest survey by the local infrastructure body Navca.
The survey, conducted quarterly with a panel of about 30 Navca members, shows that 27 per cent of respondents feel that their organisation’s prospects will get worse in the next three months, compared with 19 per cent a year ago. But only 30 per cent of those surveyed say the prospects for the voluntary and community sector will get worse over the next three months, compared with 52 per cent in April 2013.
Sixty-seven per cent of respondents predict that their organisation’s finances will get worse over the next year and the percentage who believe that their finances will improve is only 7 per cent – the lowest figure since the quarterly study started in July 2012. Thirty-seven per cent of those surveyed say they plan to reduce staff numbers – up from 29 per cent last year – and only 10 per cent say they plan to recruit more people.
Nearly three-quarters of those who took part in the survey predict that the finances of local charities and community groups will get worse over the next year. But the survey also shows that Navca members are adapting to ensure that they can continue to provide support for local groups - the survey shows for the first time that more members are planning to increase services (33 per cent) rather than reduce (30 per cent) them.
The report also shows an improvement in relationships with local public bodies. Twenty-seven per cent of the Navca members surveyed say relationships improved with their local council over the past year compared with 19 per cent in July 2012. Forty-seven per cent say relationships with their local NHS have improved compared with 42 per cent a year ago, and only 13 per cent say it has got worse – this figure was 16 per cent a year ago.
Joe Irvin, chief executive of Navca, said: "Navca members are experiencing unprecedented pressure – a growing workload and fewer resources. This has dented confidence in the future. However, what is really pleasing is the way that members are responding to these tough times. I see many Navaca members around the country adapting to ensure that local charities and community groups can continue to get the support they need."