Regulation: The recession

The ChRosie Chapman, executive director of policy and effectiveness at the commission, on being adaptable

Rosie Chapman, executive director of policy and effectiveness, the Charity Commission
Rosie Chapman, executive director of policy and effectiveness, the Charity Commission

The credit crunch seems to be affecting almost everything, right down to the class of person taking advantage of charity-run services. People who thought they would never see the inside of a Citizens Advice Bureau are now clamouring for advice on debt and benefits.

Most charities will probably experience an increase in demand for their services, but some might also see a decrease. Housing associations, for example, have been at the forefront of offering part-rent, part-buy schemes to low-paid and key workers in housing need. Because it has become so much more difficult to get a mortgage, these beneficiaries can't get hold of even the minimum sums that would allow them to take advantage of these schemes. If its pool of beneficiaries dries up, what can a housing association do to ensure it is still furthering its purposes?

For some, funding mortgages and fees might be an option, but that costs money - money that isn't always available. A different approach to meeting these needs might be required.

Would selling some of these properties on the open market and using the profits to subsidise schemes for people in need be an option? Or, because the mortgage freeze is affecting so many would-be homebuyers, might it be more appropriate to make these properties available to low-paid and key workers on a rent-only basis?

Adapting will be key to survival for charities over the next few years. Now could be a good time to take steps to analyse the impact of the credit crunch on your beneficiaries and adapt your services accordingly.

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