Local Authorities and the voluntary sector in Wales

By Walter Perry,2014-04-10 18:30
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Local Authorities and the voluntary sector in Wales

Local Authorities and the voluntary sector in Wales


    This is the second Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) Wales Council

    for Voluntary Action (WCVA) joint survey of local authority support for the voluntary sector in Wales.

    The survey was carried out by questionnaire sent to the chief executives of all 22 county councils.

    Sixteen councils responded, a response rate of 73%. Within these, 96 departments responded, although these did not include all departments of the responding councils.

    Notwithstanding the difficulties of such a survey, the result is once again the most comprehensive survey of data on funding by local authorities to the voluntary sector in Wales. The all Wales extrapolations are still the best estimate available of this funding.

    Results - total funding

    ; For the financial year 1998/99:

    Local authority funding to the voluntary sector in Wales (best estimate) was ?29 million

    almost ?10 per head of population.

    ; Of the total funding of ?29 million:

    over a quarter was provided by local authorities under NAfW (former Welsh Office) schemes, nearly a third was statutory funding (ie funding for services which local authorities have a statutory responsibility to provide); of this over 96% was made by social services departments, two fifths was non NAfW, non statutory funding (described as ‘other’ funding).

    ; In perspective, this funding for the voluntary sector was less than 1%

    (0.8%) of local authority expenditure in Wales in 1998/99

    Results - comparisons with previous years

    ; Through the 1990s, the total funding increased, for the most part steadily,

    but with one noticeable high in 1996/97. From 1990/91 to 1998/99 the

    actual increase in total funding was nearly three fold. After inflation, the

    increase was over twofold, 120%.

    ; Examination of total funding in terms of two components - non statutory

    funding (ie NAfW schemes and other funding under the remit of local

    authorities) and statutory funding - shows interesting trends.

    Non statutory funding underwent a substantial increase (around 20% a year) during the early 1990s, followed by a smaller increase (around 2% a year) during the mid to late 1990s.

    Statutory funding underwent an overall substantial increase (around 20% a year) during the 1990s, with a particular increase immediately after local government reorganisation in social services funding, this now having steadied itself and evened out.

    It could also be interpreted, the 1996/97 increase in statutory funding apart, that total local authority funding in Wales during the 1990s increased fairly steadily, averaging around 15% a year, mainly through an increase in the voluntary sector involvement in the provision of statutory services than in general funding to the sector.

    ; A wide variation is shown by individual counties between 1996/97 and

    1998/99. In some counties there was a very significant increase

    Pembrokeshire, Blaenau Gwent, Torfaen). In others there was a very

    significant decrease (Gwynedd, Monmouthshire).

    A similar wide range of change has been noted in previous surveys. The conclusion is once again that, whilst the overall total funding through the 1990s has shown a steady increase, from year to year the voluntary sector in some counties has fared rather badly and in other counties it has fared significantly better. This variation has been different in different counties over the years. In turn the effect on quite a few individual voluntary organisations must have been something of a roller coaster over the years.

    Results - comparisons with the UK

    ; UK funding to the voluntary sector was two and a half times greater than

    for Wales; ?25 per head is the UK best estimate for 1998/99, compared

    with ?10 per head for Wales.

    In 1990/91, the UK figure for funding per head of population was around three times greater than for Wales. In 1998/99 it was 2.5 times greater in the UK than for Wales. It has been accepted that the lower funding of the voluntary sector by local authorities in Wales, compared to England, goes back a long way. Two years on from 1998/99, this position may well now be in the process of change, as local authorities are starting to seriously examine alternative provision as part of the Best Value regime and Community leadership. It now remains to be seen whether the pattern of funding does indeed change as a result, and whether local authorities do indeed seriously involve alternative provision.

    ; Social services departments across the UK account for over 50% of total

    local authority funding to the voluntary sector, of which ‘payments of

    fees’/statutory funding is prominent; in Wales social services departments

    account for around a third of total funding.

    This equates to around ?12 per head from social services departments across the UK and ?3.3 per head in Wales, over three times the amount in the UK than Wales. This indicates that the voluntary sector in Wales plays a much lesser role

    in the provision of (contracted) statutory services to social services departments than across the UK. This merits further investigation.

    Results - Strategic Development Scheme (SDS)

    ; The best estimate of local authority funding to the voluntary sector under

    the SDS and the Capital Challenge Scheme in 1998/99 is ?1.8 million. Adding the NAfW contribution of 75%, the full SDS and Capital Challenge funding to the voluntary sector for 1998/99 was ?7.1 million.

    Of the ?7.1 million:

    Local authority delegated part of the SDS scheme - 93%

    SDS forward commitments - 4%

    Capital challenge - 3%

    ; Counties funding well over the threshold of 20% for the SDS delegated

    budget were:

    Merthyr Tydfil - 49.6%

    Vale of Glamorgan - 45.6%

    Wrexham - 42.4%

    Monmouthshire - 40.1%

    Torfaen - 32.5%

    Gwynedd - 31.8%

    Conwy - 30.1%

    ; Counties funding below the threshold of 20% for the SDS delegated

    budget were:

    Powys - 12.1%

    Newport - 14.9%

    Isle of Anglesey - 17.4%

    Cardiff - 18.2%

    Blaenau Gwent - 18.5%

    Pembrokeshire - 19.4%

    Carmarthenshire - 19.8%

    ; The changes to the Strategic Development Scheme (SDS) scheme,

    following on from the Urban Programme, and the consequences for the

    voluntary sector, have been a matter of considerable concern through the


    Taking the best comparisons for the changes in the schemes, funding increased substantially from 1988/89 to 1992/93, since when it has fluctuated, to arrive in 1998/99 at less than 90% of its actual equivalent value 6 years previously. After inflation, the 1998/99 value is an increase of a quarter since 1988/89, but a decrease of a quarter since 1992/93.

    Results - further detail

    ; Funding by individual counties, based on the figures given, ranges from

    ?2.73 (Swansea) to ?19.01 per head (Neath Port Talbot).

    ; By far the largest funders are social services, at over ?10 million, over a

    third of the total funding. Based on the figures given, funding ranges from

    ?1.25 (Flintshire) to ?16.19 per head (Gwynedd).

    ; By far the greater part of the funding to the voluntary sector continues to

    be revenue funding, over 90%.

    ; By number, a minimum of 16% of funding awards were contracts (service

    level agreements, management agreements etc), up to 84% were grants.

    This continues the trend of previous years.

    By value, half were contracts, half were grants.

    ; It is estimated that around 3,000 voluntary organisations were in receipt

    of local authority funding, over 10% of all voluntary organisations in Wales,

    a number which, if anything, has increased over the years.

    ; It is estimated that around ?250,000 was awarded to voluntary

    organisations (excluding churches etc) from Welsh Church Act Funds in

    1998/99, out of an estimated total amount of around ?500,000. ; The best estimate of support in kind is taken at around one third of a

    million pounds.

    ; It is estimated that over 4,000 voluntary organisations enjoyed rate relief

    of around ?8 million in 1998/99, ?2.23 per head, at a cost of around ?2.5

    million to the local authorities.

    ; Given that the main difficulties in obtaining figures for local government

    funding to the voluntary sector are recurring in survey after survey, it is

    recommended that a particular combined local authority voluntary sector

    effort be made to tackle these for any future surveys, national or local.

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