Neil Cleeveley of Navca worried by pessimism about local voluntary organisations' financial prospects

Neil Cleeveley
Neil Cleeveley

Almost all of councils for voluntary service are pessimistic about the financial prospects for local charities and community groups, a study from local infrastructure body Navca indicates.

The body’s latest quarterly survey shows a record level of pessimism, with 95 per cent of respondents saying that the finances of local voluntary organisations would get worse over the coming year.

The survey is based on responses from a representative sample panel of 20 Navca members. The study has been conducted every three months since July 2012.

The survey found respondents were concerned about their own financial prospects, with 68 per cent saying they expected their own financial situation would get worse in the next year.

But the survey also showed that Navca members remained relatively optimistic about their own prospects: nearly half of respondents (45 per cent) said they were increasing the services they offered, and only 15 per cent said they would reduce services.

Relationships between local authorities and Navca members have been affected by cuts in statutory funding, Navca says, but adds that recent surveys suggest these might be improving overall. For the first time since October 2013, more respondents (30 per cent) said relationships were improving than said they were getting worse (20 per cent).

Relationships are continuing to improve with local health bodies. In every survey more respondents said their relationships were getting better rather than getting worse. Fifty per cent of respondents said that local health bodies would have a positive impact on their success.

Increased workload remained the top concern facing Navca members in the next three months.

Neil Cleeveley, chief executive of Navca, said in a statement: "It is a really interesting finding that members feel their own financial position will get worse but are optimistic about their own prospects and increasing the services they offer. This suggests that members understand their vital role in supporting local groups through some really tough times.

"The level of pessimism about the finances of local charities and community worries me. The way funding is changing, particularly the failure to maintain grant funding, is hurting smaller organisations. Funders should remember that these smaller organisations are how so much of the volunteering and community action we all want to see is made possible."

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