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Government spend on volunteering 'does not match the rhetoric'

03 Apr 2012 News

Official figures show government spend on volunteer centres is down by 12 per cent, equivalent to £28,000 per centre.

Justin Davis Smith, chief executive, Volunteering England

Official figures show government spend on volunteer centres is down by 12 per cent, equivalent to £28,000 per centre.

The annual return for volunteer centres which is conducted by the Institute for Volunteering Research (IVR) showed that between 2009-10 and 2010-11 income has reduced in real terms, with the government funding drop proving the greatest contributor to the loss.

Justin Davis Smith, chief executive of Volunteering England which is responsible for the 263 volunteer centres throughout the country, said the figures show that "the funding unfortunately does not match the rhetoric" from the government of volunteering promotion.

Some 31 per cent of those making enquiries at volunteering centres are unemployed and seeking work. Davis Smith's comments reflect the fact that the government is promoting volunteering as a route back to employment, he says:

"The vital work of volunteer centres continues to be delivered on limited resources, on average two full-time and four part-time staff, whilst their services are in demand from Work Programme providers and government agencies who are clearly convinced of the role of volunteering in helping people into work.

"We know that volunteering works but it doesn't come for free. If we are to increase the already significant role of volunteering in our society in the future, it is crucial we invest in the local support services that help make it happen," he said.

Funding diversification

Some 169 volunteer centres, representing 64 per cent of all centres, responded to the annual return. The results showed that 89 per cent receiving funding from local government, ranging from £200 to £670,000. Overall local government funding represents 42 per cent of all funding resource for volunteer centres.

The figures showed that the median income of a volunteer centre in 2010-2011 was £56,432. This is actually an increase of £1,432 on 2009-2010 but represents a decrease in real terms when accounting for increased expenditure, the IVR report advises.

To combat the reduction in funding from the government, volunteer centres have sought new avenues of revenue. Some 43 per cent now gain income from fees and services - an increase of 10 per cent on 2009-2010. While 56 per cent of all volunteer centres now receive grant funding - an increase of 12 per cent. Grantmakers now provide 25 per cent of all funding to the centres.

The majority, 72 per cent of volunteer centres, are integrated within other organisations, 92 per cent of which are within local Council for Voluntary Service organisations.


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