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Charity bosses say voluntary sector forced to fill gaps in public services

New data suggests that the charity and voluntary sector will be expected to plug the gaps in public services to meet demand in the next five years – often without sufficient financial support.

The Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) polled more than 1,000 sector leaders earlier this year and found that 90 per cent believe charities will have to step in as the cost-of-living crisis worsens.

Of those questioned, more than three-quarters said demand had increased during the pandemic, and against the backdrop of the cost-of-living crisis, 86 per cent anticipated that demand for their support would increase.

Looking to the future

While 80 per cent of respondents were confident that their organisation could keep up with this demand, only 50 per cent felt confident about the charity sector’s ability to remain viable given the financial challenges involved.

Most said that technology would allow charities to open up new and innovative ways of conducting their mission and could change the nature of the workplace for charities – reducing costs and improving productivity.

Valued contribution

Thanks to the pandemic, three-quarters of charity leaders feel that the public is more aware of their contribution to society, while 64 per cent hope that the Government will see the importance of charities in communities.

However, despite this, fewer than a third think the Government values their contribution to public policy, and only 29 per cent believe that charities are seen as a source of insight to help plan for future crises.

Financial challenges

The research also found that financial sustainability is the main challenge for more than half of charity leaders, but almost two-thirds of them are pessimistic about Government support in future.

Neil Heslop OBE, Chief Executive of the Charities Aid Foundation, said: “The last two years have reminded all of us that charities form the backbone of our society and the contribution they make to our communities and wider society is undeniable.

“It’s clear that charity leaders feel unsettled and now is time for charities to take stock of what they need to do to rebuild their finances and reset their relationships with volunteers, donors and the Government.

“With their in-depth local knowledge and on-the-ground networks, charities are in an ideal position to help the Government achieve the 12 missions announced last week to level up the nation.”

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