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.

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