This site is no longer active, but is provided as an archive. Please be aware all links may not work. For current TUC work, visit

A perfect storm for the voluntary sector

14 June 2013

Shuttered buildings

It’s safe to say that the community and voluntary sector has not done well out of this government. For all the talk of the Big Society, community and voluntary organisations around the UK are in crisis faced with the perfect storm of austerity-driven cuts, prolonged economic slump and welfare changes.

Prolonged economic crisis had led to a huge rise in demand for services, as increasing numbers find themselves out of work, in debt and in need of support. Ans at the same time, public and voluntary services have been cut back, with loss of funding, staff and volunteers, leading to a growing deficit of provision.

In turn, this has led to the growth of service rationing, with increased use of raised thresholds to access services, longer waiting lists or, in the worst cases, turning away those in need.

And to make matters worse, it all ends up costing Britain more. As the axe falls on non-statutory services, like youth clubs and counselling services, people in need are transferred from cheap and preventative community services to expensive crisis and acute interventions further down the line.

The NCVO predict that funding for voluntary sector will be £1.7 billion lower by 2017/18 than it was in 2010/11 (using 2010/11 prices). This is having a massive impact on community groups around the UK. 60% of respondents to the London Voluntary Services Council Big Squeeze survey reported a reduction in their overall funding in 2012/13, with over half of the organisations currently using reserves to cover running costs.

As a result, around two thirds of community organisations surveyed said that the demand for their services was increasing but half did not expect to meet this demand.  Over 40% closed services this year and over a quarter expect to close further services next year.

The impact on children’s charities and community organizations has been particularly acute, given their traditional close relationship with local authority funding and service provision which has borne the brunt of the government’s public spending cuts.

The National Children’s Bureau report that children and young people’s charities face public funding cuts of almost £405m over the five years from 2011/12 to 2015/16. This has led to reductions in staffing levels, reductions in the levels of service provision and a “substantial minority” of organizations likely to have to close in the next year.

Children England show how this is impacting on children in need, the figures are shocking:

  • The number of calls to the NSPCC’s child neglect line doubled between 2009/10 and 2011/12
  • From 2009/10 to 2010/11, the number of children in need increased by 42,400, with an 8 per cent increase in child protection plans.
  • Since 2007, there has been a 9 per cent increase in the number of looked after children.
  • By 2015, there will be 115,000 more children living in families with four or more vulnerabilities (defined by the Cabinet Office)

What’s your story?

Have you got a story about local voluntary services where you live? Or do you work with community organisations and see the crisis from the inside? We want to hear from you. Please add a message via this site – We’ll be collating them for a public report that we’ll be presenting to government.

Add your story now



17 June - 29 June


Your Stories

Tell us your story

Share this site

The issues

Childcare: Expensive, patchy and underfunded

Our already ailing childcare sector has deteriorated rapidly in a climate of austerity

Read more