Many charities carrying out public contracts are being forced to flout the law by dipping into restricted funds to subsidise wages for their staff, an NCVO recruitment conference heard last week.
Clare Smith, chairwoman of the Social Care Employers Consortium, said that insufficient funding from local authorities often forced charities to use funds dedicated to other purposes to recruit and retain qualified staff. This constitutes a breach of charity law.
Smith, who was presenting the findings of Social Care: The Growing Crisis - the Consortium's latest report - described the charity sector as the 'Cinderella' of local authorities. She argued that voluntary sector workers delivering social care services for the public sector were paid less than their own staff.
"Voluntary organisations should not be seen as a cheap option for service provision by local authorities and primary care trusts," she said.
Joanna Wootten, manager of the NCVO's workforce project, added: "The Government cannot expect the sector to deliver high-quality services if they do not pay in full."