Half of volunteer centres in England lost more than a quarter of their income last year

National Council for Voluntary Organisations' survey shows average annual income was the lowest since 2008, but Justin Davis Smith says picture is "not universally bleak"

Justin Davis Smith
Justin Davis Smith

Nearly half of all volunteer centres in England lost more than a quarter of their income in 2011/12 compared with the previous year, a survey has shown.

The Annual Return for Volunteer Centres 2011/12, a survey of volunteer centres by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, also shows that one in five saw their income halved in the same period.

But a quarter of the 160 volunteer centres that responded to the survey said their income had increased on the previous financial year.

Overall, the average annual income for volunteer centres was £52,500, a fall of £3,932 from the previous year and the lowest average annual income since the recession began in 2008.

The report shows a shift away from central government funding with only 7 per cent of volunteer centres saying that they received funding from this source, compared with 24 per cent the previous year.

The NCVO said this was because of various national programmes supporting infrastructure programmes coming to an end.

By comparison, 83 per cent of volunteer centres said they received some funding from local government - an average of £32,000 per centre.

The survey also found that a third of all enquiries about volunteering opportunities were from people who were unemployed and seeking work.

"We know that volunteer centres can be the start of a journey back into employment for many people who need to find ways to gain skills – something that is particularly important as the economy remains challenging," said Justin Davis Smith, executive director for volunteering at the NCVO.

"The picture is not universally bleak – some volunteer centres had success in developing new work and sources of income in this year. However, it is crucial that all volunteer centres have the chance to develop new ways of working and income sources, and sudden and sharp funding cuts make this harder to achieve."

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