London Olympics and the Voluntary Sector Crisis

Much praise and disdain falls upon the London Olympics. But one thing is for sure, there will be a killing to be made for the property market particularly those close to the vicinity of the Olympics.

Being closely associated with the voluntary sector I am only too aware of the impending cuts that local governments are making on large and small organisations. The source of this concern comes from the unlikely corner of the London Olympics. In a recent interview with Richard Kemp, deputy chair for the Local Government Association (LGA) stated that “following the announcement that money will be diverted from local authority budgets to fund the Olympics”.

The article in The National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) brought to light the effects of the cuts faced by the voluntary sector and its implications on services. Local governments have already placed pressure on the voluntary sector by announcing Borough wide changes in granting of monies for projects with greater demands on policy and procedure, measure for measure, leaving many groups flabbergasted as to how they will manage to run their services at the same level with half the money – many of the smaller groups are already talking about cutting down on facilities such as cleaning staff and the task being carried out by general staff.

The NCVO reported that the voluntary sector organisations may need to prop up statutory services because of budget cuts to local authorities, according to Richard Kemp, deputy chair for the Local Government Association (LGA).

Speaking to VS about the financial pressures on local authorities, Kemp said, ‘If the statutory sector cannot respond then we will rely even more on the goodwill and commitment of the voluntary sector. If cuts go deep we will be looking at the voluntary sector providing – on a voluntary basis – core, not ancillary, services.’ He made the comments following the announcement that money will be diverted from local authority budgets to fund the Olympics.

Kemp pointed out that local councils are also being expected to find savings as part of the Comprehensive Spending Review. He said it was the ‘soft stuff’ that would have to be cut – resources such as community development workers. Social services are likely to face tighter restrictions, meaning the public will ask for more help from the voluntary sector, which could lead to increased demand on voluntary organisations.

‘Anything that attacks our core budget will lead to cuts in service,’ said Kemp. ‘I have no doubt that the most disadvantaged will suffer in one way or another.’ NCVO has highlighted the importance of building relationships between local government and the voluntary sector. ‘As the fiscal environment gets tighter, it’s increasingly important that the local authorities work with local voluntary and community organisations to manage any changes to services,’ said Ann Blackmore, head of policy at NCVO.