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New report calls for more action to minimise the effects of frontline spending cuts on charities

The new report – Challenging Cuts – Investigating the response of charities to frontline service cuts – has three main sections which have the following key points.

Part 1: The effect of government spending cuts

  • Frontline services are impacted on both by budget cuts and by policy changes
  • Changes in commissioning and tendering can be disruptive even without cuts
  • Capital funding and revenue funding are very different sources of income
  • Local authorities have to cut something because of their funding settlement with Westminster
  • Fighting a funding cut and defending the impact of cuts on others are different activities
  • Small isn’t beautiful as tendering requirements change

Part 2: Reducing the effect of cuts

  • Local and Central Government still make choices about who and what to fund
  • Coordination is really important to effectively argue against cuts
  • Individual decision-makers still matter as they can influence funding
  • Evidence is critical to argue against cuts
  • Getting the organisational positioning right can help open up new funding avenues
  • Think laterally and think like politicians in order to make the best case to reduce or change funding cut

Part 3: Producing an effective response to spending cuts in this government

  • Transforming cross-sector learning about cuts is vital to improve the collective response
  • Learn from the overseas development sector who got the overseas aid budget ring-fenced
  • Learn from the NHS and the way it has got politicians falling over themselves to increase its budget
  • Creating bodies to represent specific sectors appears to be the best way of helping them.
  • Swim with the current of government policy wherever possible
  • Better approaches to commissioning and tendering will help many charities and create a level playing field
  • Use national and regional devolution to maximum benefit, by showing how different approaches can work
  • Get better at campaigning and lobbying to fight against cuts
  • Increase independent income to improve organisational resilience

The report includes an appendix which looks at what resources appear to be available to guide and advise those concerned about frontline spending cuts.

nfpSynergy’s Joe Saxton said:

“The conclusions from our preliminary research are both encouraging and sobering. They are encouraging because of the breadth of ways in which charities can constructively engage and fight against frontline spending cuts. The battle does not have to be, and is not, always hopeless.

Our research is sobering because we found so little that charities are learning from each other’s experiences of how to fight against, or mitigate the effects of spending cuts. Nobody seems to be joining up the dots, so many frontline charities are starting from scratch in fighting the cuts.”

Please see the attached report for more details.


The report was created by carrying out telephone interviews with organisations working with or in frontline service delivery. They covered a range of causes: housing, environment, advice, support, social care, local charities, and campaigning


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For further comment from nfpSynergy’s Joe Saxton, please contact him directly on 07976 329212 or joe.saxton@nfpsynergy.net. If you cannot contact Joe, please contact Anna Chistyakova (02074 268 868; E: anna.chistyakova@nfpsynergy.net) for further assistance.

Note to editors:

nfpSynergy (www.nfpsynergy.net) is a research consultancy dedicated to the not-for-profit sector. They aim to provide the ideas, the insights and the information to help non-profits thrive. They provide a unique insight into the social and charity-related views of everyone from public and parliament to media and business, not to mention not-for-profit organisations themselves. nfpSynergy has a vast and ever-growing knowledge pool and shares this with the non-profit sector, through both paid work and regular free reports and seminars.


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