Vast majority of London charities report increased demand for their services

Eithne Rynne, chief executive of the London Voluntary Service Council, says the long-term effects on the capital's most vulnerable could be catastrophic'

LVSC report
LVSC report

More than 80 per cent of voluntary organisations in London have experienced increased demand for their services this year as a result of changes to the economy or government policy, according to research.

The London Voluntary Service Council’s latest Big Squeeze report, A Fragile State, published today, is based on a survey of 247 organisations in the capital in September. 

It shows that 82 per cent of respondents reported an increase in demand for their services as a result of the economic or policy climate.

This is the highest proportion to report an increase in demand for their services since the survey began in 2009; last year’s figure was 66 per cent.

Demand became particularly high for advice services and support after the government’s welfare reforms, the report says.

The report reveals that 93 per cent of organisations have had to change the way they work to cope with changes to the economic and policy climate. Fifty-one per cent of respondents reported a reduction in their overall funding in 2012/13, compared with 60 per cent the previous year.

The report says that Toynbee Hall, a community organisation that works to reduce poverty and disadvantage in London's East End, reported demand for some of its services was running at more than 20 per cent higher than predicted, which the charity said was "clearly unsustainable".

The proportion of charity respondents that said they had to close a service over the past year to cope with financial pressures was 27 per cent, down from 41 per cent the previous year. However, 53 per cent reported having to dip into their free reserves to cover running costs in 2012/13. Only 28 per cent of respondents said they had more than three months worth of expenditure in free reserves.

The report says that the poor, young, old, disabled, carers, minority communities or a combination of these groups are the hit hardest by economic and policy changes.

Eithne Rynne, chief executive of LVSC, said: "If the government does not seriously review the impact the welfare reforms are having on groups, particularly those protected by the Equality Act 2010, the long-term effects on London’s most vulnerable and on health and social care could be catastrophic."

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