For two years now equality and human rights charity brap has been investigating the impact of public spending cuts in Birmingham. Its project Making the Cut looks at the impact austerity measures are having on both people and the organisations providing the services they need.
It examines changing patterns of inequality and new and emerging patterns of deprivation in the city.
The key findings of the project so far include:
1. More demand and less capacity to meet it:
» The impact of welfare changes continues to drive up need for services.
» But it’s not just that there are more people using services. There are also different groups with different needs that require support.
» And the needs of service users are increasingly complex meaning they require access to a wider range of support and will need it for longer.
2. Changing funding practices:
» More funding of consortia/partnerships.
» Funding increasingly short term.
» ‘Softer’ activities get cut.
» Contracts more restrictive and prescriptive.
3. Small organisations struggling most:
» Move towards more partnership and consortia funding is more difficult for smaller organisations.
» Trend of larger tenders favours larger organisations providing a broader range of services meaning they win more contracts, and smaller organisations win fewer.
4. The future is uncertain:
» How can the voluntary sector continue to meet demand and bear the brunt of cuts?
» Funding cuts could turn out to be a false economy.
» Commissioners and public authorities will need to be more proactive, and less reactive.
» Current policy is simply putting off the problems until a later date.