The voluntary sector’s income from government grants and contracts fell by £1.7bn in real terms in the two years to 2012/13, new figures from the National Council for Voluntary Organisations show.
The umbrella body’s UK Civil Society Almanac 2015, published today, shows that the UK voluntary sector’s income from government in 2012/13 was £13.3bn, made up of £11.1bn of income from contracts and £2.2bn in grants.
The figures, which are based on a sample of about 6,000 charities’ accounts filed with the Charity Commission, show that the sector’s total income and expenditure remained broadly flat when compared to year 2011/12, at £40.5bn and £39.3bn respectively.
Sir Stuart Etherington, chief executive of the NCVO, said the figures showed that the voluntary sector had been "running to stand still".
The almanac says that income from individuals rose by 1.4 per cent in real terms between 2011/12 and 2012/13 to £18.8bn.
It also says the total number of people employed in the UK voluntary sector grew by 21,000 to 821,000 in the year to March 2014.
Using figures based on the Labour Force Survey, the almanac says there were 497,000 full-time employees in the voluntary sector at the end of March 2014, compared with 508,000 at the same time a year before.
By contrast, the number of people employed part-time rose from 291,000 in March 2013 to 324,000 a year later.
There was also a rise of two percentage points in the proportion of female workers in the voluntary sector, to 68 per cent in March 2014.
The value of the voluntary sector’s assets rose by £3.7bn to £104.7bn in 2012/13, the almanac says. Of those assets, £70.2bn, or 73 per cent, were held by the top 1 per cent of asset owners, comprising 1,168 charities.
The voluntary sector spent £4.9bn on fundraising and related activities, or 12.4 per cent of its budget. Charities and voluntary organisations raised £4.20 for every pound spent, the almanac says.
Etherington said: "These figures suggest that the sector has been running to stand still in recent years. We hear constantly of the substantial efforts that organisations across the sector are putting in to ensure they can continue to work on behalf of their beneficiaries despite the difficult environment, rethinking business models and doing even more to involve volunteers; these figures bear out those stories.
"It is of some comfort to see that the dramatic fall in contracts and grants from government of 2011/12 were not repeated the following year, but we should not be surprised to see such falls again in future years."