Children England chief executive Maggie Jones has voiced concerns that charities feel forced to merge due to financial pressure, and warns that niche expertise of some small charities could be lost as a result.
Jones comments were triggered by the announcement of merger talks between childcare charities the Family and Parenting Institute, whose most recent accounts show it has an income of £8.6m, and the Daycare Trust, which had an income of £1.2m in 2010/11.
Speaking to civilsociety.co.uk, Jones stressed that she was not concerned that the Family and Parenting Institute and the Daycare Trust feel forced to merge “I know both charities well,” she said. “And they have excellent track records in the sector. I am sure they will be stronger together as individually they are very effective charities.”
But she did say she had concerns that in general charity mergers were too often seen as only a good thing and that they are “irredeemable”:
“There is an underlying populist view that there are too many charities but this is never said about business.
“I feel we are in an economic environment where charities feel they have to merge but in better times they would not have made this decision.”
She also warned that there was a risk that mergers could lead to the loss of specialist and niche voices in the charity sector.
Jones told Children and Young People Now that the Daycare Trust had a particular unique role in the children charity sector: “There is not another charity campaigning and involving parents around changing policy specifically around daycare.
"I am sure those issues will be on the agenda for the merged charities, but that unique focus of having an individual charity whose sole job is to campaign around daycare will no longer be there.”
The Daycare Trust and the Family and Parenting Institute will announce futher details of the merger later in the year.