Budgets and staff slashed at NCB as Ennals prepares to leave

The National Children's Bureau will see its funding nearly halved and staff drop by 40%, outgoing chief executive Paul Ennals (pictured) has revealed.

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The National Children’s Bureau will see its funding nearly halved and staff drop by 40%, outgoing chief executive Paul Ennals has revealed.

The organisation’s budget is dropping by 48% in the new financial year, from £23m to roughly £12m. Staff will fall by 40% from 200 to 120.

Ennals said the cuts put the NCB back to the position it was in four years ago.

“The decreases take us back to where we were in in 2007,” he told Community Care. “We had a rapid rise three years ago, with Play England money and some large grants that are now coming to an end.

“Things are more challenging now, but we like to think we were quite influential back in 2007, so I don’t see why we won’t continue to be influential under these new figures.”

The largest staff cut, Ennals said, will be within Play England. Last year the programme employed 70 people – this financial year that number will drop to 10.

Ennals insisted that these massive drops in staff and finances were not the reason he is leaving the NCB. He said he had always openly planned to leave the organisation after 10 years and the reason he stayed on for 13 was because of the cuts.

“We have been facing decreases, but that’s not why I’m leaving,” he said. “We always knew the end of this financial year would be challenging, we’ve always known we were going to take a step down at this time. What we didn’t know was the extent of that step down, so that’s why I committed to staying to steer the NCB though that adjustment.”

Ennals said the NCB had started a search for his replacement and confirmed he did not have a position to go to yet.

The NCB does not appear to be alone in this struggle. The latest Labour Force Survey figures, published on 31 March, said numbers of paid staff and hourly pay have failed to recover since the last quarter, despite increased emphasis on the government’s Big Society.

Figures for the fourth quarter of 2010 show that the voiluntary sector employed 793,000 people, the same figure as reported during the previous quarter. The previous quarter’s figures were a 2% reduction on the preceding quarter. Median gross hourly earnings have stayed at £10.40 per hour, the survey said.

National Council for Voluntary Organisations Charity Forecast, a snapshot survey from 1 February until 1 March (1st quarter of 2011):
Do you think the general situation of your organisation will improve or worsen over the next 12 months?
64% worsen
22% no change
14% improve

During the next 3 months, does you organisation have actual plans to increase or decrease paid staff numbers?
55% decrease
30% no change
15% increase

Do you expect your organisation to increase or decrease expenditure over the next 12 months?
66% decrease
10% no change
24% increase

Do you expect the financial situation of your organisation to improve or worsen over the next 12 months?
66% worsen
22% no change
13% improve

During the next 3 months, does you organisation have actual plans to increase or decrease the extent of the services it offers?
35% decrease
42% no change
23% increase

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