The confidence of charity leaders about the financial position of their organisations is at its lowest level for three years, according to a new survey by the Natonal Council for Voluntary Organisations.
The latest edition of the umbrella body's quarterly Charity Forecast, published today, shows 63 per cent of the 123 NCVO member organisations that took part believed their charity's financial situation would worsen over the next 12 months, compared with 52 per cent when the survey was last carried out in June.
The survey, which included chief executives, directors, senior managers and trustees, shows 21 per cent of respondents said their organisation planned to reduce staff numbers during the next three months. The corresponding figure was 14 per cent three months ago.
It also found that 52 per cent of respondents expected to reduce spending in the next 12 months, up from 33 per cent in June.
The Charity Forecast surveys carried out in June, September and December 2009 all that showed optimism about charities' finances was on the increase. But the surveys from March and June this year revealed falling confidence.
Stuart Etherington, chief executive of NCVO, said: "This latest survey really hits home the widespread concern the sector is feeling about its future prospects.
"It is crucial that the government listens to the sector's concerns. Spending cuts must be managed intelligently, otherwise they will compromise the sector's ability to deliver vital services."