In a revelation that cuts starkly against the coalition government’s fetishisation of the voluntary and charitable sectors, the National Council of Voluntary Organisations has published a survey showing that third sector bodies face cuts of up to 99%.
Countless organisations and services across the sector, as well as cultural bodies such as community theatres, are severely threatened by the ConDem axe.
The cuts affect every area of the country; the Young Devon group, which provides support services to young people in the area, faces a 90% cut. The South Leeds Community Radio project will see 30% of its budget slashed.
While many of the bodies facing the axe do not employ people directly, they provide vital services to their communities after years of privatisation and outsourcing. While socialists opposed, and continue to oppose, privatisation and outsourcing, we should be clear about what these cuts mean: attacks on workers and service-users.
The most vulnerable people in our communities will feel these cuts most acutely. One body that provides services for migrants in economically-deprived Morecambe reported:
“We will be closing on September 30th and all services to migrants in a deprived area of Morecambe will be stopped; no other agency will carry them on. The funding we expected was for April-December 2010. From April-June I frontloaded spending and had spent £23K. We were told in July that we had a 50% cut. To keep staff on until September I used our reserves. So the cut has eaten into other funds and wiped out our opportunity to work on our sustainability from September-December 2010.”
The ConDems claim that their “big society” vision involves a greatly increased role for the so-called “third sector”, but the scale of these cuts make it clear how they want that sector to be organised.
Workers for charity sector employers such as Turning Point and Shelter have already faced struggles around sick pay, pensions and working hours. As the cuts spread, those struggles will intensify.
Workers and service-users must unite to fight for properly funded services run by staff who are well paid and treated with dignity. Ultimately, that struggle must seek to reverse decades of outsourcing and privatisation and take the services currently provided by those third sector organisations back “in house” and under public control.
For the NCVO’s survey, see http://tinyurl.com/volsectorcuts