Most local infrastructure organisations rule out merger in the next year, Navca survey finds

The infrastructure umbrella body says the figures suggest greater confidence after awards from the Transforming Local Infrastructure fund

The proportion of local infrastructure organisations that have ruled out merging in the next year has increased significantly, according to new figures.

An annual survey of chief executives of infrastructure organisations, carried out by the infrastructure umbrella body Navca, found that 77 per cent said their organisation would not merge in the next year, a rise of 28 percentage points on the previous year’s figure.

The proportion of the 110 respondents who said they did not know whether they would merge in the next year fell from 43 per cent in 2011 to 14 per cent this year.

The proportion that said they would merge increased slightly, from 8 per cent last year to 9 per cent in 2012.

Navca said the figures indicated growing confidence among infrastructure organisations after the government awarded grants totalling £30m to 72 partnerships from its Transforming Local Infrastructure fund, aimed at helping infrastructure organisations work more closely together.

A Navca spokesman said: "Last year there was a huge jump in the number who said they did not know whether they would merge in that year. The Transforming Local Infrastructure fund was a factor, but I think the other change is that the ‘don’t knows’ last year reported that the cuts were quite savage.

"The cuts have continued this year, but they have not been of the same magnitude. We think this has helped members have more certainty about their future."

The survey also found that competition from national organisations was a growing problem for local charities and community groups.

Over the past three years, about a third of chief executives have reported knowing of a local organisation that has lost public funding in competition with a national charity for a services contract. This year, the figure has increased to 56 per cent.

The survey found that 72 per cent of members had been involved in campaigns to save local services."This shows they are still maintaining their campaigning zeal," Navca spokesman said.

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