Charity workforce shrinks
9 January 2012
Employment in the voluntary sector has fallen by nearly 9% over the past 12 months according to our latest analysis of the Labour Force Survey. Data recently released for the third quarter of 2011 shows that the UK voluntary sector employs 723,000 people. This equates to a fall of 70,000 (8.7% of the workforce) over the past 12 months. In comparison, public sector employment fell by 4.3% whilst private sector employment rose by 1.5% over the same period.
The data also indicates that certain parts of the sector have been disproportionately affected by the fall in employment. The majority of the annual fall has occurred among female employees, with 56,000 fewer female employees in the sector than 12 months previously, a decline of 10%. Certain regions have also witnessed greater losses, in particular the North East, London, the South East, and Scotland. The latest figures also show an annual fall in pay in the voluntary sector. Median gross hourly pay fell by nearly 3% in the voluntary sector and currently stands at £10.00 per hour. This fall occurred despite increases experienced in both the public and the private sector.
The latest findings were produced by the Third Sector Research Centre (TSRC) and the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) in partnership with Skills -Third Sector, the registered charity working to make it easier for people who work and volunteer in charities and social enterprises to have the right skills to make a difference to people and their communities. The findings come as part of an ongoing study being conducted by these three bodies into overall voluntary sector workforce trends.
Keith Mogford, chief executive of Skills – Third Sector says: “These figures reveal the scale of the reduction in the voluntary sector paid workforce and confirm what most of those working in the sector will have been anticipating. The reduction in average pay in the sector, when set against modest increases in both the private and public sectors, is a serious cause for concern. The sector’s ability to retain a well-motivated and talented workforce will be critical to its ability to meet the future challenge of delivering higher quality services to more people with less resource. Despite these challenges Skills - Third Sector continues to work with organisations in the sector to support them in the development of their workforce.”
Sir Stuart Etherington, NCVO chief executive, says: "The steep drop in the sector workforce is deeply troubling, and provides robust evidence that spending cuts are hitting the voluntary sector disproportionately. With diminishing resources and fewer staff, voluntary organisations are facing a perfect storm and will struggle to meet the increased demand for their services that began with the recession of 2008. The sector is playing its part by looking for efficiencies or more innovative ways to deliver services, but government must play its part too. In particular, it is essential that government at all levels make cuts intelligently and with adequate notice, in accordance with the Best Value Guidance for working with the voluntary sector."
Yorkshire-based Reading Matters supports children and young people in schools and other settings to become confident and enthusiastic readers. It has 14 years experience and a proven range of tried and tested interventions that can change the lives of young people.
It has recently experienced a loss of local authority contracts to deliver services in schools, and cuts to regional funding sources which support business development and volunteer support. With schools now in control of their own budgets, they are more cautious about buying in specialist support. The impact is less demand for support for young people who are struggling with reading, and reduced opportunities for people to volunteer. In October 2010 Reading Matters had to cut staff from 15 to six, the majority part time.
"Reading Matters delivers a vital service which is high on the political agenda. We operate as a social enterprise, providing accredited training for adult volunteer mentors recruited from local communities and businesses, and support effective peer to peer learning in schools," says Neil Bennett, chief executive of Reading Matters. "Our small staff team are applying all methods promoted as important in a positive civic (big) society but the take-up for a much needed service is reducing. I would welcome the opportunity to discuss the pressures on my organisation with government ministers but also the real impact on young people." Neil Bennett is available for further media comment.
Based in West Sussex, Outset Youth Action aims to give young people the opportunity to make a positive difference to their communities by providing high quality volunteering opportunities which are tailored to volunteers’ needs and to help them flourish as people.
In March 2011 they had to make a 70% cut in staff from 15 to 6, and end two short term contracts. Cuts to West Sussex County Council’s Youth budget also meant they lost their grant, although this is being phased, which has bought them some time.
“We’ve brought in a fundraiser, and we are working hard to restore funding levels,” says Chris Gillings, Outset Youth Action chair. “We’re enabling 1,800 young people to volunteer in West Sussex, from right across the social spectrum, who are not only thus getting the chance to flourish, but who are doing a great job, very cost-effectively, in settings such as care homes, hospitals, charity shops and animal aid centres. We need paid leaders to ensure that continues to happen safely and securely.”
More: see workforce research