More than one in four charities in Norfolk say they might close in the next year

Brian Horner, chief executive of Voluntary Norfolk, says the survey shows charities they need to improve the way they work

Brian Horner
Brian Horner

A survey of charities in Norfolk has found that more than one in four fear they will face closure over the next year, more than three times the national average, according to Voluntary Norfolk.

A poll by the umbrella organisation for charities and voluntary groups in the county revealed that 28.6 per cent of respondents believe they are at risk of closing in the next year. This figure compares with only 9 per cent of charities across England and Wales that make the same claim in a New Philanthropy Capital report When the Going Gets Tough: Charities’ Experiences of Public Service Commissioning.

Other findings show that 66.7 per cent of the Norfolk charities surveyed have used or expect to have to use their reserves to boost income, compared with 62 per cent in the NPC poll.

However, only 50 per cent of respondents to the Norfolk poll say they have cut or will be cutting services because of financial pressure, compared with 65 per cent of organisations that took part in the NPC survey.

Voluntary Norfolk canvassed the opinions of 300 of its member organisations for the poll, gaining 39 responses.

The survey also found that 37.1 per cent of respondents have made redundancies or will have to lay off staff as a result of financial constraints, compared with 73 per cent of organisations surveyed nationally.

But Voluntary Norfolk has pointed out that the actual figure could be far higher because some of the smaller charities that completed the survey don’t employ any staff and would not be able to make redundancies.

Brian Horner, chief executive of Voluntary Norfolk, said that the survey’s results painted a mixed picture for charities and voluntary groups across the county, but it also sent a message that it was imperative for organisations to improve the way they worked.

He said: "Groups need to be able to demonstrate value for money, whether to the public, a grant-making trust or a public body that is providing funding for their work.

"The sector as a whole needs to find new ways of working together to maximise resources, avoid duplication and save money. The voluntary sector has traditionally argued that it is very good at collaboration, but often the actual practice does not match the rhetoric and we need to turn the warm words turn into actions."

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