One in six charities fear closure

One in six charities may have to close their doors within the next 12 months, a national conference of community and voluntary organisations heard today.

The figures from a survey of 205 community, voluntary and charitable organisations, conducted earlier this month by The Wheel, the national support and representative body for charities, also show that 62% of community and voluntary organisations will have to cease operations if Government funding is discontinued. Over half of the organisations surveyed rely on statutory funding for 50% or more of their income.
 
The results of the survey were presented today at Building a Better Ireland, a national conference for the community/voluntary/charitable sector at Croke Park in Dublin. Representatives from 200 community, voluntary and charitable organisations from across Ireland attended the event hosted by The Wheel.
 
Speaking at the conference, Deirdre Garvey, chief executive of The Wheel said that 68% of community and voluntary organisations have had their statutory funding cut in the past year, and that further reductions will result in thousands of job loses in the sector and cuts in frontline services in areas such as health, education and social services. “The reduction in social welfare funding and rising unemployment have led to a surge in demand for support from charities, and further cuts will result in a collapse of services for the most vulnerable people in our society,” said Ms Garvey.
 
The survey shows that 16.5% percent of community and voluntary organisations have made staff redundant in the past six months, and that 75% have introduced pay-cuts or reduced benefits and working hours for staff. Of the 205 organisations surveyed 58% suspended or delayed projects due to a lack of funding. The community and voluntary sector is worth €2.5 billion and employs 8.8% of the workforce.
 
“We believe that economic recovery can be achieved without targeting the most vulnerable people. This can be achieved by raising Ireland’s total tax take in a fair and equitable manner while still maintaining a low-tax economy. This will provide the resources to rise Ireland’s social services and infrastructure to at least EU levels,” said Ms Garvey.
 
The latest survey echoes the findings of a report by social researcher Brian Harvey, commissioned by the trade union IMPACT. The report found community and voluntary organisations had been disproportionately hit by 2010 budget cuts with funding to the sector down 18-20 per cent compared to a 1.8 per cent cut in overall Government spending.