New research from ACEVO, the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations, today warns that communities face a crisis point in the ability of local services to keep pace with rising levels of need in society.
The findings emerge in the first survey from ACEVO’s 2014 Social Sector Tracker, the charity sector’s annual flagship surveys of senior social leaders and charity chief executives.
88% of charities surveyed experienced a rise in demand for their services in the last year, and 89% envisaged that demand rising again next year. But less than a third – only 32% – felt that they would be able to meet this demand.
Charities experienced rising costs over the past year, with 72% stating that commercial costs had increased and 80% experiencing rising direct costs across the board.
Crucially, 61% argued that central government policy had a damaging impact on their work.
The survey findings reveal that these effects would not just be felt by service users but by the wider economy and job market. 70% of charities surveyed bought and sold locally and 74% offered volunteers the opportunities to become paid staff. 69% provided paid entry level jobs.
Commenting upon the research, ACEVO Chief Executive Sir Stephen Bubb said,
“More and more, our citizens have come to depend upon charities in the wake of severe issues with our welfare services. Charities have been overwhelmed by the demand for their services. They have steadfastly refused to reduce service levels and absorbed rising costs. But now something has to give.
“The charity safety net is being stretched to breaking point. Vital charities which include food banks, suppliers of clothing and other services to the most vulnerable, face a ‘perfect storm’ of rising demand for their services, rising costs and reduced funding. If charities were to go under or cut services, this would represent a serious risk not only to users to services, but to local economies too. Charities are not only providers but also repositories of growth.
“Government cutbacks to charity support and infrastructure have placed many charities in serious jeopardy while at the same time the Government is asking them to do more in order to support our welfare state. If as a society we fall off this cliff-edge, millions of vulnerable people will suffer.”