Snip, Snip, Snip – The Real Impact of Voluntary Sector CutsPosted on 4th March 2014 by Jo Ivens
A chilly but lively rally of voluntary sector organisations, service users, parents and others gathered outside Hove Town Hall last Thursday to make sure Councillors understood the impact of cutting Brighton & Hove Discretionary Grants by 10%.
While an amendment to reject this cut was passed, Councillors ultimately failed to agree on the budget overall, so will meet again tomorrow night. Here’s what they need to know about the real impact of nibbling away at funding to voluntary sector organisations.
The impact for us of the 10% cut in this grant would be relatively small on its own, but in conjunction with other cuts that we are experiencing (or are aware might come) it adds up to a worrying picture, for two reasons.
The first reason is that all projects, organisations or businesses of whatever type need to reach a certain critical mass to be able to work most efficiently.
For example, our Neighbourhood Care Scheme reaches over 250 older people, adults with physical disabilities and their carers each year, with the time and commitment of over 220 volunteers. It unlocks at least 10,000 hours of support a year to isolated older people within our communities.
But high quality, safe and rewarding volunteer relationships do not just create themselves – we have a small but exceptionally experienced team who orchestrate all of this behind the scenes.
There is a very fine line between running efficiently with no wastage and having your team pared back to the extent that you have to stop doing some of the things that make your work distinctive, successful and sustainable.
The second reason is that we are caught up in a difficult place between hyperbole and reality.
On the one hand we hear all the time ‘Your work is so essential for the City, your work helps us keep people independent and active, your work helps save us money in the long run’. On the other, we are finding that there is poor communication between different bits of local statutory bodies, and commissioners are individually quite willing to make reductions, small or large, on the assumption that we will be able to absorb it, or someone else will pick up the funding slack, or indeed that vulnerable people themselves will somehow just manage.
The reality is that a cut over here is very likely to mean more pressure on services over there – but that’s a problem for someone else, or for another set of budget wranglings.
All we can do at the moment is continue to work on being as efficient as possible while maintaining our values and the distinctiveness of what we achieve with our volunteers.