What does central government think it spends on the voluntary sector?

Today saw the release of the Government’s updated Departmental Business Plans, which show progress against the objectives that government has set itself, and its plans for the coming year.

One interesting part of the plans from my point of view is that departments are required to show how much they have spent on the voluntary sector in the 2009/10 financial year. One of our key research aims is finding out what the government spends on the sector, so this kind of data can help to do that.

Unfortunately, we often find that government doesn’t know what it spends on the sector. Charities and other sector organisations are sometimes not separately identified in their accounting systems, and so producing the required data can be difficult. The former Office of the Third Sector, and the Home Office Active Communities Unit before it, attempted to plug this gap with a survey of departments, but even this report contained only partial data (despite the hard work of Ian Mocroft, who compiled the report).

The business plans show that while some departments know what they spend, others don’t. I’ve extracted the data from the business plan PDFs and present it in the table below.

I’ve (slightly subjectively!) rated each department from Gold to Bronze depending on the quality of the information – departments with no information at all do not make the medals! Let’s hope that next year they all meet the gold standard.

Department Spend with VCS (Contracts) Grants to VCS
Cabinet Office 7.7 234.6 Gold
Communities and Local Government 78.2 73.2 Gold
HMRC 0.2 2.0 Gold
HM Treasury 0.3 0.0 Gold
Dept for Education 39.7 177.5 Silver
Dept for International Development 35.6 594.4 Silver
Dept for Work and Pensions 305.0 82.0 Silver
Dept for Energy and Climate Change n/a 17.1 Bronze
Dept for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 16.0 n/a Bronze
Dept for Transport 4.9 n/a Bronze
Ministry of Defence 151.0 n/a Bronze
Ministry of Justice 39.5 n/a Bronze
Home Office n/a 56.9 Bronze
Foreign and Commonwealth Office n/a n/a Did not medal
Dept for Business, Innovation and Skils n/a n/a Did not medal
Dept for Culture, Media and Sport n/a n/a Did not medal
Dept of Health n/a n/a Did not medal

I’ve put all the data up as a Google spreadsheet, including the notes made to justify not including a figure – so can judge each department for yourself!

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David Kane David Kane was formerly NCVO’s Senior Research Officer. He discusses open data and emerging trends in the voluntary and community sector and wider civil society.

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