Drop in local authority funding to over half of Volunteer Centres

Written by Andrew Holt

A survey of Volunteer Centres in England has found that over half that receive funding from the local authority had it cut in the past year.

52 per cent experienced cuts of up to 80 per cent, with half of those losing at least a fifth of local authority funding. The average cut was 25 per cent.

Only 5 per cent received more money this year than they did in 2011/12, and 42 per cent received the same amount.

These results follow on from the finding of the Annual Return of Volunteer Centres for 2010/11 which found that funding from local government across the network declined on average by 12 per cent between 2009-10 and 2010-11.

Justin Davis Smith, chief executive of Volunteering England, said: “This is further evidence that the funding does not match the rhetoric at a time when volunteering is higher than ever on the political agenda.

“Even though the majority of Volunteer Centres are introducing new revenue raising activities to ensure they are sustainable, they face an increasingly difficult challenge to meet the public and political demand for their services.

"As well as the constant stream of people through the door, they are in demand from Work Programme providers and government agencies that are clearly convinced of the role of volunteering in helping people into work.

“We have just had the best demonstration of the power of volunteering we could have hoped for in the form of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, with those who have given their time being roundly praised by all.

"We’re now working with government and others on trying to secure a lasting legacy for volunteering from the Games, but this will only be achieved with proper investment in the organisations that make volunteering happen.”

Joe Irvin, chief executive of NAVCA, added: “NAVCA members support volunteering and volunteer led organisations. The majority run a Volunteer Centre but all support volunteer led organisations in some way. This research backs up recent NAVCA research showing our members have experienced funding cuts of 20 per cent.

“Volunteers and volunteer led organisations are crucial to developing an inclusive community and can-do society. The London 2012 Games Makers show that you can do amazing things when you invest in volunteering.

"However, this research shows once again that investment in local volunteering is falling and the backbone of the voluntary sector is being cut. Local councils and the Government have to realise that volunteering needs to be properly supported.”

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