Twenty-eight per cent of Northern Ireland charities 'have cash-flow problems'

The finding is contained in the quarterly Third Sector Index for the first three months of this year

Cash-flow problems
Cash-flow problems

More than a quarter of charities in Northern Ireland are reporting cash-flow problems, according to a survey from the Northern Irish charity chief officers body CO3 and Ulster Bank.

The Third Sector Index, which is put together quarterly by the market research firm Perceptive Insight, is based on the responses of about 200 charity chief executives in the province. It says that 28 per cent of respondents in the first quarter of 2017 believed their charity was vulnerable to cash-flow issues.

In comparison, only 17 per cent of respondents had similar concerns about cash flow in the final quarter of 2016.

The index shows that when asked about their main concerns about the political crisis in Northern Ireland, 44 per cent said that the lack of a budget threatened their funding and their ability to operate.

According to the index, 92 per cent of respondents said their charity received funding from the government.

Fears of a "democratic deficit" were also cited by 25 per cent of respondents when asked about their concerns on the political situation in Northern Ireland, and 20 per cent mentioned an erosion in political trust in the province.

Despite this, 76 per cent of respondents raised concerns about the effect of direct rule from London on the charity sector in Northern Ireland, with 59 per cent worried about the impact on their organisation.

Respondents also raised fears about the state of the Northern Irish economy over the next 12 months, with 71 per cent saying they believed the economic situation would worsen.

The index found that 75 per cent of respondents expect the political situation in Northern Ireland to get worse.

The survey also found that 56 per cent of respondents had seen an increase in demand for their services, and 15 per cent had increased staffing levels.

Nora Smith, chief executive of CO3, said: "Although funding has been secured up until July 2017, this piecemeal approach greatly inhibits members’ ability to plan and deliver key services. At a time when the sector is being encouraged to raise more of its own income, the uncertainty of funding makes this task extremely difficult."

Richard Ramsey, chief economist, Northern Ireland, at Ulster Bank, said: "With austerity, Brexit, the current political impasse and the lack of Northern Ireland budget, the environment for the third sector is certainly challenging.

"This makes it all the more important for the sector as a whole to continue to adapt and to find new streams of revenue, although this is extremely difficult to do with the lack of certainty about future funding."

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