Gloucestershire infrastructure body closes

The Gloucestershire Association for Voluntary & Community Action says a loss of funding has necessitated a managed closure

The Gavca statement
The Gavca statement

The infrastructure body the Gloucestershire Association for Voluntary & Community Action has closed because of a loss of funding.

In a statement on Gavca’s website, Catherine Kevis, its interim chief executive, said a decision to carry out a managed closure of the infrastructure body was made by its trustees in March.

Gavca’s website says that an extraordinary general meeting was held on 20 May to ratify the decision to close the infrastructure body and its offices have been shut down.

Gavca has suffered falling income in recent years. Its income fell from £615,271 in the year to the end of March 2013 to £166,824 just two years later.

Kevis’s statement says the trustees carried out a strategic review in February 2015, with resources focused on developing Gavca’s training and capacity-building offer, with work to increase partnership working and explore possibilities for joint working.

But the statement says that income expected in 2016/17 "did not materialise", and this coincided with a fall in income from direct grants.

Income from training and consultancy services did not make up for the shortfall from the loss of grant funding, the statement says.

"Sometimes, the right decision is not the most palatable, but we recognised that to sustain Gavca for its own sake would not be future-proof, and that to continue would very possibly lead to an unplanned closure and more disruption to services," the statement says.

"The decision was taken to close the organisation in a managed way and to leave a legacy to support local organisations."

From the chief executive’s statement, it appears that Gavca employed four members of staff.

The most recent accounts say that the average number of employees at Gavca fell from 12 in 2013/14 to 5.5 a year later, with gross salaries over the same period almost halving from £209,007 to £108,756.

A number of its programmes will be taken over by other bodies. Gloucestershire Rural Community Council will take over Gavca’s support services in Cheltenham, and a locally established grant management agency will manage Gavca’s "legacy" and will "benefit organisations in need of support to grow and develop their organisation or train their people".

Gloucestershire University Business School will also continue Gavca’s Our Community is Your Business project, which considers how to best connect businesses and the voluntary sector in Gloucestershire.

Neil Cleeveley, chief executive of the national infrastructure body Navca, said: "The closure of Gavca is an example of what happens when local funders make short-sighted decisions. Previous cuts meant that Gavca had already reduced staff and cut overheads to a minimum, and the lack of support from funders has meant a valuable local resource has been lost.

"At a time when the value of smaller charities and community organisations is starting to be recognised, Gloucestershire is being deprived of the means to support and engage with these groups."

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