Voluntary sector to plug gaps in public services say charity bosses

The voluntary sector will be expected to plug the gaps in meeting public services demands over the next five years, according to new data.

Research from the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF), which polled more than 1,000 sector leaders, found that 90 per cent believe charities will have to step in as the cost-of-living crisis worsens over the coming months and people are increasingly concerned over household finances.

Three-quarters of those questioned (75 per cent) said demand had increased during the pandemic, and against the backdrop of strained household finances, nine in 10 (86 per cent) anticipated that demand is likely to increase.

Technology key to the future

Although most (80 per cent) are confident that their organisation could meet demand, only half (50 per cent) are optimistic about the future of the charity sector overall.

Almost all agreed that technology will allow charities to open up new and innovative ways of conducting their mission (88 per cent), and that technology will change the nature of the workplace for charities (90 per cent).

The wide-ranging survey also found that three quarters (71 per cent) of charity leaders believe the public is more aware of their contribution to society because of the pandemic, and nearly two-thirds (64 per cent) think that the Government sees charities as vital connections to local communities.

Conversely, fewer than a third (31 per cent) think the Government values their contribution to public policy, and fewer than one in three (29 per cent) believe that charities are seen as a source of insight to help plan for future crises.

Finance the main challenge

The research also found that financial sustainability is the main challenge for the majority (58 per cent) of charity leaders, but almost two-thirds (64 per cent) of them are pessimistic about Government support for the sector.

Neil Heslop OBE, Chief Executive of the Charities Aid Foundation, said: “The last two years have reminded all of us that charities form the backbone of our society and the contribution they make to our communities and wider society is undeniable.

“It’s clear that charity leaders feel unsettled and now is time for charities to take stock of what they need to do to rebuild their finances and reset their relationships with volunteers, donors and the Government.

“With their in-depth local knowledge and on-the-ground networks, charities are in an ideal position to help the Government achieve the 12 missions announced last week to level up the nation.”

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