Sector leaders have written to all local authorities in England urging them to spare charities from disproportionate cuts as they draw up budgets for the next financial year.
A joint letter from the heads of the local infrastructure body Navca, the chief executives group Acevo, and the National Council for Voluntary Organisations points out the risk of creating long-term social and economic problems in the "search for short-term cash savings".
The letter, also signed by Simon Blake, chair of Compact Voice, refers to Compact Voice research, published in December, that showed "a number of local authorities continue to cut voluntary and community sector grant funding disproportionately".
The letter also voices support for a call from Don Foster, a Liberal Democrat minister in the Department for Communities and Local Government, who wrote to all local authorities in England in February urging them not to make disproportionate cuts to their voluntary sector budgets.
Today’s letter says: "Cutting VCS funding is likely to incur real costs in social and economic terms – particularly as many local voluntary organisations provide essential services for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged people that prevent greater costs accruing further down the line."
The heads of the organisations urge local government commissioners to implement the requirements of the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012, introduced through a private member’s bill from Conservative MP Chris White, which is intended to give voluntary sector organisations a better chance of winning contracts. It came into effect in January.
They also ask councils to engage with organisations at all stages of the procurement process and to consider the "flexibility and responsiveness that accompany appropriate local grant funding, as distinct from contracts".
The letter says: "The voluntary and community sector should not be seen as a soft target for cuts in local budgets. We ask all local authorities to ensure that, when cuts are necessary, they are decided strategically and through meaningful engagement with the local sector."