Pressure growing on voluntary sector

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The first quarterly ‘state of the sector’ surveys carried out by Cornwall Voluntary Sector Forum has shown a worrying trend in reduced funding to charities in Cornwall and increasing reliance on their reserves to keep going.

Cornwall VSF – the voice of voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) organisations in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly – asked members to tell them how things had changed over the previous three months and their expectations for the following quarter.

After two surveys, the message is clear: funding, reserves and staffing are down, while there is optimism that volunteer numbers have increased along with the number of people organisations are able to support.

Ian Smith, chief executive of Cornwall VSF, said: “This trend is particularly worrying because no organisation can live off their reserves for long and charities rarely build up big surpluses. Conversations I’ve been having with our members back this up – we know the sector has already shrunk by as much as 15% in the last two years.”

Factors such as the continuity of EU funding to Cornwall post Brexit and the NHS Kernow review of ‘small contracts’ – many of which are with voluntary sector organisations – are also said to be causing concern.

Smith added: “We are working positively with public sector organisations to find new approaches to support communities better together. We know that resources are tight and demand is increasing, but the fact remains that VCSE organisations are increasingly under threat, at a time when their clients and the public sector need them most.”

To read the reports, click here.