Up to 5000 jobs could be cut in CV sector

The Irish Times reports that up to 5,000 jobs in the community and voluntary sector could  be lost by the end of this year due to Government cuts.

The figure is based on a report by social researcher Brian Harvey, commissioned by the trade union IMPACT. The report found voluntary and community 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.

The report projects that 4,778 of some 53,000 staff in the sector will be made redundant by the end of this year.

The report projects that 4,778 of some 53,000 staff in the sector will be made redundant by the end of this year. A further 1,100 community employment positions (jobs aimed at getting the unemployed back into the workforce) will be at risk. By mid-2011, the sector is predicted to have contracted by 15 per cent.

The report details the cuts in funding from each department supporting the sector. Cuts in 2010 included a 70 per cent reduction in funding from the Department of Sports for disadvantaged areas, a 62 per cent cut in funding for educational disadvantage and a 53 per cent cut for the CLAR programme tackling rural disadvantage.

The extra pressure on organisations dealing with disadvantaged and poor communities due to the economic crisis meant the sector was trying to do more with far less. Organisations were also seeing new demands. Where they used to help people with shelter, cash and food, they were having to deal with more complex issues such as debts to moneylenders and mortgage arrears, the report said.

Organisations were endeavouring to absorb cuts by reducing pay or putting staff on shorter working weeks, but the performance and services of these organisations would inevitably suffer. It was likely, the report said, that organisations would focus on client services at the expense of representational and policy work.

The report suggests this may be a deliberate Government strategy to reduce the capacity of the sector to lobby for the disadvantaged.

Overall State funding to the community and voluntary sector was €1.89 billion in 2010, while the value of the sector to the economy was €6.5 billion, according to the report. Mr Harvey said the belief volunteers could fill the gaps left by cuts to staff and services was “an ignorant myth” popularised by An Bord Snip Nua’s report.