As public sector funding cuts begin to bite, it is vital that their impact on the voluntary sector and the people it works with is understood. Voluntary Sector Cuts is a new collaborative project which maps intelligence about voluntary groups experiencing reductions in public sector funding.
If you’re involved in a voluntary or community group which has been told its statutory funding will be reduced, you can be part of this work by sharing your story. Just fill in the simple form to share your experiences and the impact the cuts will have on the people who use your services. Your contribution will be crucial to building a wider picture of the scale of the challenge ahead in your community, your region, or nationally.
This vital data will be all the more powerful through being made available to everyone: any group can use the information in their campaigning and policy work, while citizens can see the real impact on the voluntary organisations in their area and the people they exist to serve.
Who’s behind Voluntary Sector Cuts?
Voluntary sector cuts is a collaboration between a group of voluntary and community organisations, shown in panel at the bottom of the page. We want this information to be collected, and owned, by the voluntary sector itself.
How can I help?
If you work or volunteer for a voluntary organisation that’s experienced a cut in public sector funding, you can share that cut. If you’re lobbying or campaigning on behalf of charities in your area, you might want to use the cuts listed here to help you.
You can also help by telling other organisations you know about the site, and encouraging them to fill in the form and use the results. You might think about adding a link to the site in newsletters that you send out, tweeting about it, or linking to it on your website. You can even embed the form on your own site (see below).
Why are you gathering this information?
All the partner organisations involved in this project work hard to support, campaign for and lobby on behalf of their members. This information will help them better target their support, and provide real life examples to show politicians and civil servants the impact of cuts on voluntary organisations and their beneficiaries.
But we also hope that by making the data public we can also help other groups campaign on behalf of voluntary organisations, and keep citizens informed of the impact of the cuts on charities in their local area.
What happens to the information once it’s submitted?
All cuts are made public on this site, and can be seen using the map and visualisation tool on this website. It’s important to emphasise that this is a public website and so information you submit will be available to anyone. But we think this is a good thing – by sharing information we can better work together to make sure the voluntary sector is treated fairly when public bodies are trimming their budgets.
Note that after you submit a cut there may be a short delay before it appears on the map or on the cuts by region page.
What do you mean by a cut?
The financial relationship between the voluntary sector and the public sector is a complex one. With so many different funding streams and mechanisms it’s very difficult to give a single definition of what constitutes a cut.
We’re defining a cut as a statutory body (in central, local or regional government, including government agencies, local authorities, PCTs and others, or from the European Union) informing you that you will receive less money than they had previously agreed to provide, as part of a grant, a contract or another formal funding arrangement.
This may include them asking you to make efficiency savings as part of an existing contract or cancelling a grant which they had previously agreed to provide. We’re not including funding applications that have been turned down, but we are interested in funding programmes that have been cancelled, or continuation funding that is withdrawn due to budget cuts.
Can I embed the form on my website?
That would be great! Embedding the form allows you to present the form on your own website, as organisations may be more willing to fill in the form on the website of an organisation they know and trust.
Ask your webmaster if it’s possible to embed iframes in your pages. You need to insert the code below. You can adjust the width and height if needed, we’d recommend that you should try to keep the width of the iframe more than 350 pixels.
<iframe src="http://voluntarysectorcuts.org.uk/vscuts.html" frameborder="0" height="1300" width="550"></iframe>
Where can I find the results?
The results are also displayed on this site (see the map and cuts by region) using a WordPress plugin. You can use the results on your own website – if you know how. Results are available in CSV, json, XML and other formats, and you can also map the results with Google maps. Email email@example.com if you want more information about using this data.
What if I want to submit a cut anonymously?
We think this information is better when shared freely and publicly, but if you would prefer to submit an anonymous cut then you could be selective about what you put into the form. You could also email firstname.lastname@example.org.
I submitted a cut but now circumstances have changed. Can I edit or remove the cut?
You can’t edit or remove the cut yourself, but if you need any changes made then email email@example.com.
Someone has submitted a cut which is false. Can you remove it?
All cuts are reported anonymously, and as this is a collaborative “crowdsourcing” exercise they aren’t verified before they go onto the spreadsheet. While we do ask people reporting cuts to provide a supporting link, we can’t guarantee that the information is correct. If you spot incorrect information about your organisation, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and this can be changed.
I want to add lots of cuts, do I have to add them one-by-one?
No! If you’ve got a large number of cuts that you’d like to add, perhaps from your own similar exercise, then email email@example.com and they can be added to the spreadsheet in bulk.
Is anyone else collecting this sort of information?
This website builds on work done by all the organisations involved to gather intelligence on the impact of the cuts, including NCVO’s crowdsourcing the cuts exercise. NCVO have now closed crowdsourcing the cuts to new entries and have moved all previous entries onto this new website.
Looking wider than the voluntary sector, other people have tried to collect information on public sector cuts:
- The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is conducting a similar exercise for charities in Scotland: State of the Sector, where Scottish charities can voice concerns and share solutions.
- wherearethecuts.org is an Open Knowledge Foundation project built on the Ushahidi platform that aims to map the impact of funding cuts on communities.
- Voices for the Library have a map of libraries threatened with closure.
- The campaign group FalseEconomy are gathering cuts and testimonies.
- Leeds Cutswatch in the Guardian also uses the Ushahidi platform to map cuts in one area.
- NCVYS has a great blog which is monitoring the financial situation of the voluntary and community youth sector.
- The Guardian has regular updates on public sector cuts.
- Charity Insight used Freedom of Information requests to ask councils what cuts they were planning to make.
- VONNE have been conducting a “Surviving not Thriving” survey for the last two years. This survey measures the impact of the recession and the subsequent public sector spending cuts on the North East’s Voluntary and Community Sector, through 6-monthly surveys.