Small charities missing out on improving voluntary sector and council relationships

More than half of charities say local authorities have become more responsive to their needs during the Covid-19 health crisis, a survey has revealed.

However, the results are “skewed towards larger charities, with smaller organisations missing out or seeing a decline”, according to the NCVO, which is involved in the survey.

The results have emerged in a survey of just under 550 charities and community organisations that took part in the Respond, Recover and Reset project, which is led by the NCVO alongside Nottingham Trent and Sheffield Hallam universities.

This found that 71% of respondents reported they are working with a council and over half of respondents (52%) said local authorities had become more responsive to their needs during the pandemic.

A third of large charities, with an annual income of between £1m and £10m, said they had seen an improved relationship with local government.

But this proportion fell to less than one in ten (9%) among charities with an annual income of £10,000 or less.

Smaller organisations are also more likely to report a deterioration in the relationship with local authorities (12%), compared to larger charities (1%).

“While over half of the organisations we surveyed saw an improvement in their relationship with local government, with the pandemic making local authorities more responsive, it’s clear that this is not universal and that lots of smaller charities have not seen an improvement,” said NCVO head of networks and influencing Alex Farrow.

Nottingham Trent University professor of organisational behaviour Daniel King added: “We have seen in some local authority areas barriers were broken down, joint work undertaken and partnerships developed in ways that did not seem possible before Covid-19 hit.

“Whilst this is not true everywhere, and smaller organisations seem to be more likely to be excluded, it does demonstrate it is possible for new partnerships to be developed in ways that can be creative and beneficial to local citizens.

“Yet, as the initial crisis of the pandemic eases, there is a danger that things go back to business-as-usual and the silos go back up. With funding cuts on the horizon the next year is going to be challenging for many charities and voluntary organisations.”

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