Strengthening the Voluntary Sector’s Voice in Welfare Reform

Over the past year, the coalition government has introduced a range of significant changes to the welfare system, eg universal credit, the spare room subsidy and the benefit cap. These reforms represent the biggest transformation of statutory welfare provision since Beveridge’s 1942 blueprint of the welfare state.

There is a lack of understanding of the cumulative effect of the changes across the sector as a whole.

Today, we are launching a national call for evidence to find out:

  • How the welfare reforms have affected charity beneficiaries?
  • What changes charities have made to their services as a direct result of the reforms and why?
  • What factors have affected their capacity to respond to changing demands?

We want to hear from organisations of all sizes, from across England, whether their main activity is to provide services or to advocate on behalf of welfare claimants.

What individual charities are saying now

Charities have direct experience of providing advice and support to people affected by changes to welfare provision and are well-placed to provide feedback on what is happening around the country. Individual charities such as Shelter and Citizens Advice have long-called for the multiple means-tested benefits to be streamlined and for any active barriers to work to be removed. Therefore, they broadly support of the aims of Universal Credit.

Involve Yorkshire and Humber’s Holes in the safety net has reported that the localisation of council tax benefits and discretionary housing benefits has resulted in an emerging “postcode lottery”. Newcastle CVS have reported that for 82% of organisations, welfare reform has affected at least some of the people they support.

Strengthening the sector’s voice

I have joined NCVO to work on a major year-long research project that will bring together the views and experiences of voluntary organisations and individuals affected by the reforms. This will help us build a better understanding of the effectiveness of recent welfare reforms and identify the impacts they have had.

Throughout the project, I will be consulting and engaging with voluntary organisations involved in welfare and their user groups.

Get involved

You can:

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Anjelica worked at NCVO researching the effects of welfare reforms on communities across England for NCVO. She is now senior policy officer at Charity Finance Group.

7 Responses to Strengthening the Voluntary Sector’s Voice in Welfare Reform

  1. Jayne Humm says:

    We have just published some research that IVAR did for us on how welfare reform affects participation in social, economic and environmental resident led regeneration. See the report here: http://www.localtrust.org.uk/?new=big-day-for-big-local-learning

  2. judith leslie=smith says:

    have you seen the report written under the auspices of the Bill Sargent Trust “the impact of welfare reform in Hampshire” (Centre of Regional Economic and Social research). A very interesting and useful document for the work you propose.

    • Anjelica Finnegan says:

      Thank you for your suggestion, I have contacted Community Action Hampshire and they have forwarded me that report.

  3. Tom Daly says:

    Read Manchester CABs report “Punishing Poverty” on corrosive efffects of benefit sanctions. Most individual charities are opposed to what is happening to our most vulnerable citizens. Your paragraphs above are misleading and the sector needs to champion the voicless from an evidence as the CAB are doing, no one else will. Anodyne attempts to appear nuetral in the face of this onslought on the poor does not put NCVO in a credible light. Get some backbone!

  4. David LLoyd says:

    I have to agree with Tom that your language is rather bland. And I am not convinced that this is radical reform: rather most of it is cuts in the monies that are paid to support the poorest in society. For example, you refer to the spare room subsidy; this was a cut in Housing Benefit.

  5. Anjelica Finnegan says:

    Thank you both for your comments. I wrote this post to launch our call for evidence. It’s important that I don’t pre-empt any findings we may make as we go along. Further, to make sure that the research is as robust as possible, and therefore as credible and widely used as possible, I could not write anything that would lead responses.

    In combination with developing case studies of organisations and welfare claimants, the research will bring together evidence from across the sector as a whole and I would really encourage you to respond. I have made note of CAB Manchester’s report and I will include this, thank you.

  6. Pingback: Researching the charity impact of welfare reforms | VoluntaryNews