The Almanac – the five things you need to know

Today we launched the 2014 edition of the UK Civil Society Almanac, NCVO’s flagship publication which gives facts and stats on the voluntary sector, its size and scope, finances and the people that work and volunteer in it. Here’s five things that you need to know from this year’s publication.

Government spending cuts have hit charities hard

This is the first Almanac in which we’ve been able to chart the impact of government spending cuts on the sector, and we’ve found that between 2010/11 and 2011/12 the sector saw its income from government fall by £1.3 billion in real terms, a fall of 9%. This means government spending with the charity sector fell faster than government spending overall, and is slightly worse than the ‘disproportionate cuts’ scenario that we modelled in our Counting the Cuts report last year.

Other income sources saw growth

The rest of the sector’s income sources saw growth. Income from the general public, which is the sector’s biggest source of income, grew by 3.1%, with earned income (e.g. from ticket sales and fees for services) driving this growth.

Voluntary sector spending fell for the second year in a row

The voluntary sector’s spending fell to £38 billion in 2011/12, down in real terms from a high of £39 billion two years before. These falls come after the recession period when the sector maintained its spending even while income was falling, and suggests organisations couldn’t keep up this level of countercyclical spending.

The sector’s loans are worth £4 billion

For the first time since 2004 the Almanac contains concrete data on the liabilities that voluntary organisations have, including what they owe as loans. The figures suggest that around 60% of these loans are secured against an asset.

The voluntary sector employs 800,000 staff

Figures from the Labour Force Survey show that 800,000 people are employed by the voluntary sector at the end of 2012. This bright spot in the data suggests that the sector may have seen spending rise after the period covered by the Almanac data, although we also need to look at changes in part-time working.

That gives just a taste of the data that can be found in the Almanac. You can access more information on the Almanac website. NCVO members can also register to receive exclusive content and get a free copy of the full Almanac. We’ll also be producing a free guide for members on how to use the Almanac to help your organisation – look out for that soon.

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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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