Over 2,000 charities across England face a black hole in the funding of care for the sick, young, disabled and elderly due to budget reductions.
Research published on Tuesday suggests vital services for many of society’s most vulnerable people are facing £86 million worth of cuts this year.
Freedom of Information requests made by the anti-cuts campaign group False Economy show organisations serving children and young people are the worst affected, facing over £17 million worth of funding cuts this year.
267 community based charities will also have their funding cut by local councils, as well as 151 disability charities, 142 charities focusing on the elderly and 64 charities tackling domestic and sexual violence.
Charities have warned services to the elderly, children and abused women are at risk as a result of cutbacks. Vivienne Hayes, chief executive of Women's Resource Centre (WRC) told the Huffington Post UK that cuts in the money available would have a devastating impact on women who’ve suffered domestic violence and rape.
“With nowhere to turn, women and girls who have experienced violence will be unable to seek help for themselves and their families. Women's organisations are the net below the net offered by local services - they catch those women who otherwise would slip through the cracks and end up destitute.
“Without them who will help these women in the future?”
Separate research done by WRC shows 95% of charities supporting those in need of care face cuts – which could affect around 88,000 people.
Peter Kyle, deputy chief executive of the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations said the government’s current proposals didn’t do enough to tackle the black hole in charity funding. He warns that once a charity’s closed it can’t be brought back.
“The question is do they add up to the size of the problem they are trying to tackle? With so many charities struggling at the moment, I think the answer will be no.
“The proposals in the recent public service white paper could inject another £2 billion into the voluntary sector between now and 2015, but so many of them are out to consultation they are going to be deliberated on, but now is the time for the government to get to grips. If a charity goes bust today you can’t suddenly magic it back again.”
Kyle said increased funding cuts now may cost taxpayers “a fortune” in the future: “The point is at the moment in the charitable sector the government can just lob money off a budget but it will cost the country and taxpayers a fortune down the road.”
Cuts are already having an impact on charities across the UK. Advocacy Alliance in Bedfordshire faces a funding cut of £100,000 this year. Its chief executive, Vicki Airs, told the Huffington Post UK that vulnerable people would have less access to services.
“At some point, particularly given reductions in alternative sources of funding it is likely there will be reduced services for vulnerable people.”
Advocacy Alliance supports 1,000 vulnerable people each year, but the charity believes those most in need of care may no longer get help in getting access to benefits and coping with traumatic events.
The charity’s partnership development officer, Richard Doughty, warned women with learning difficulties whose child had been taken into care would no longer be able to receive help.
“One person we supported with learning difficulties – that means an IQ under 75 - had her child taken into care. We provided a volunteer to support her through the courts system.
“The volunteer advocate we provided helped her understand the child protection system and the court system. She now has joint parental responsibility with her child’s foster parents.”
TUC head Brendan Barber said the figures showed the big society was a con: “These deep cuts to voluntary groups across the UK show that government claims that charities can replace direct services currently provided by central or local government are false. It sounds great, but in practice, the Big Society is looking more and more like a big con.”
A Department for Communities and Local Government spokesperson said it was up to councils to decide how to allocate cuts in the voluntary sector.
“Councils have challenging decisions to make around how they prioritise spending but the government is clear that councils must resist any temptation to pass on disproportionate savings to the voluntary sector.
"In their approach to budget setting, the best councils are showing that they understand that a strong, thriving voluntary sector is more important now than ever and could be the key to providing high quality, good value services to their residents.”
They warned councils who failed to recognise the importance of voluntary services were being “short sighted”.
But Chairman of the Local Government Association Sir Merrick Cockell said local authorities never choose to make cuts “lightly”:
“Local authorities have rightly carried out full and frank consultations before reducing funding to groups.”
The number of charities facing cuts according to the research:
- Children and young people – 382
- Community – 267
- Arts – 179
- Disability – 151
- Elderly – 142
- Information, advice and counseling – 126
- Homelessness and housing – 125
- Adult care 112
- Volunteering – 104
- Health – 89
- Economic – 68
- Citizens Advice Bureau – 66
- Domestic and sexual violence – 64
- Other – 61
- Environment – 57
- Sports – 56
- Crime – 46
- Education – 44
- Amenities 33
- Equality – 23
- Transport – 19