Voluntary sector leaders today urged the government to prevent smaller children’s charities being driven out of the market by the public sector’s shift from grant funding to commissioning.
The warning from the National Council of Voluntary Child Care Organisations and National Council for Voluntary Youth Services came after they published the first ever “map” of the children and young people’s voluntary and community sector.
A survey of organisations in the West Midlands, South West and the London boroughs of Hackney and Richmond found widespread agreement that public sector commissioning had excluded many smaller organisations. Many of these dealt with the most vulnerable children.
The report, by a team from Hull University, said many organisations had been left “operating within a context of significant uncertainty and working to short-term goals”.
NCVCCO and NCVYS urged the government to invest in research identifying the extent to which smaller organisations were suffering due to public funding practices and the support needed to ensure their survival.
The report, Every Organisation Matters, identified a dearth of existing data on the sector, nationally and locally, hindering effective understanding of charities’ work.
It also called for the government’s Office of the Third Sector to fund regular analyses of the children’s voluntary sector to inform commissioning decisions.
Government must build on research
NCVCCO chief executive Maggie Jones said: “If the government is serious about reaching out to the most disadvantaged it needs to build on this research, take a long hard look at implementation on the ground, and develop a far more detailed understanding about the size, scope and nature of the children and young people’s voluntary and community sector.”
However, the report also found that voluntary and community bodies needed to do more to measure the long-term impact of their work.
The report estimated that the sector employed more than 160,000 people in England, around a third of all those employed by voluntary and community organisations, and generated an income in excess of £1.5bn a year.
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