The core funding for two major voluntary sector research centres, totalling £12m, will come to an end this summer, putting about 20 jobs at risk.
About 20 staff have been put on notice of redundancy at the TSRC, a collaborative venture between the universities of Birmingham and Southampton, whose funding of £10m over five years from the ESRC and the Office for Civil Society, and £250,000 from the Barrow Cadbury Trust, will come to an end in August.
The CGAP, based at several educational institutions including Cass Business School in London, was funded with a total of about £2m from the OCS and the ESRC over five years, which will end in June. It also received funding from the Scottish government and the Carnegie Foundation.
Cathy Pharoah, joint head of the CGAP, said she did not expect anyone to lose their job as a result of the funding coming to an end, because all of those involved in the CGAP had other positions.
Five years ago, the two centres won a competition to receive money through a five-year joint funding package agreed by the ESRC and the OCS. The ESRC said this funding will not be renewed, but the two centres would be able to apply for a new pot of funding from its Centres and Large Grants stream, which this year will offer funding of between £2m and £10m for up to eight centres. This pot of money will not only be used to fund research into the third sector, but the ESRC has said it has a "specific strategic steer on civil society".
This funding will not be available until April 2014 and the ESRC has not expressly said it will make grants available to the TSRC and the CGAP. But the ESRC has also invited the centres to apply for "bridging funding", which would allow them to continue in the interim. It is not clear whether this application will be successful, or whether funding will be at the same level as the two centres have received.
A spokesman for the Office for Civil Society said that his department was not renewing funding. He said the OCS was keen to build an evidence base for the sector and that was why it had initially supported the project. But he said that funding had been agreed for a set time, and the OCS had to "take tough decisions" over which projects it supported.
Pete Alcock, director of the TSRC, said he was "reasonably hopeful of continuing at something like the same level that we are at the moment". He said he felt the TSRC had done a good job so far, and he wanted to continue to do more of the same research to support the sector.