Local decision making vital to ensure vital community organisations can recover from crisis, warns Locality

  • Local community organisations continue to be at the forefront of supporting vulnerable people and holding communities together during the COVID crisis
  • New report reveals that 41% will have lost at least a quarter of their income between July 2020 and January 2021
  • Member network Locality calls on Government to give these vital community organisations the tools and support they need to play a leading role in our recovery following the Spending Review.

Community organisations that have been at the forefront of supporting local places throughout the coronavirus pandemic are warning of a significant, prolonged squeeze on their finances throughout the winter as demand for their services continue to increase and the impact of lockdown measures bite.

According to a new member survey by Locality, the national membership network for community organisations, 41% expect to lose at least a quarter of their income between July 2020 and January 2021.

For organisations where trading is more than 50% of their income, 59% expect their losses to be at least a quarter. And the new year looks just as uncertain, with losses predicated at the same levels between January to December 2021.

The survey also showed that despite financial pressures, 44% of community organisations saw increased demand for their services during the first three months of the Covid-19 crisis, and that for these organisations, demand increased by over a third.

Throughout the coronavirus crisis, community organisations, their staff and volunteers, have been mobilising to support their communities through the hardest of times to keep their vital services going.

In their new report “The Power of our Network”, Locality’s findings from their member survey show the vital role of community organisations during the pandemic. It highlights how these locally rooted organisations have remained agile and resilient thanks to their local networks, local leadership and their dedication and accountability to the community. However, the report also confronts the challenges they face in the months ahead.

Local restrictions and social distancing measures will continue to impact their ability to generate income, while increasing pressures on local authority finances will impact the number of grants and contracts available.

Locality is now calling on central Government to use new funding opportunities, like the Levelling up Fund announced in the Chancellor’s Spending Review and the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, to invest in the social infrastructure that enables places to thrive and to put communities in charge of how investment can best support local renewal and recovery.

As Tony Armstrong, CEO of Locality, explains: “During this extraordinary year, we have experienced the power of community like never before. Community organisations have been incredible, mobilising local responses and taking the lead in keeping people connected and delivering support to those most in need.

“The social and economic impact of lockdowns is hitting our communities hard. Community organisations will be doing all they can to help their neighbourhoods weather these storms – but they themselves are straining under increased demand, decreased income and ongoing uncertainty.

“We’re calling on the government to invest in local places and the social infrastructure that sustains them. The Levelling Up and UK Shared Prosperity Funds should put communities in charge. If we trust local places and the organisations that serve them, we can have a genuinely people-powered recovery which benefits every area.”

During the pandemic, community organisations have been invaluable in many communities across the country. Centre 4, the vibrant community hub serving residents in Grimsby, is one such organisation. When forced to close under government guidelines, staff and volunteers sprang into action to ensure the most vulnerable people could continue to access vital support including social prescribing, advice services and social activities for the elderly.

Regular services were moved online or over the phone and the team were inundated with enquiries from residents as they helped and supported through the tough national lockdown restrictions.

It is clear that charities and social enterprises across the country face significant challenges in generating income which will limit their ability to continue to provide essential services to the most vulnerable.

The latest monthly barometer survey from NCVO, Nottingham Trent and Sheffield Hallam Universities, found that 1 in 7 voluntary organisations are anticipating closure within the next year. These organisations are needed now more than ever as they continue to provide the essential services local people rely on.
Locality’s membership network comprises over 1,200 community organisations with a combined income of £315 million, as well as land and buildings worth £555 million. The report finds that together, these organisations employ over 6,400 people and work with over 17,500 volunteers.

The survey findings show that Locality members deliver on average 13 different services or activities to their community. Some of the most common services delivered by a typical community organisation include tackling social isolation, unemployment, and mental health.

Whilst the challenges facing our communities are getting ever more difficult into the winter, the survey shows the commitment and resilience of community organisations to weather the storm and to continue delivering vital services to their neighbourhoods.

For more information and the full report, visit:

ENDS

For more press information, please contact Laura Hunt at laura.hunt@bjl.co.uk / 07713 214703

Notes to Editors

Locality supports local community organisations to build strong local communities. We represent over 1,200 community organisations spread around England and provide direct support, resources, training, networking and campaign on their behalf. Together we unlock the power of community.

We are supporting #NeverMoreNeeded to protect and strengthen the vital role of community organisations in the coronavirus recovery effort and beyond.