Relationship between councils and charities improves in pandemic

There have been ‘promising signs of improvement’ in relationships and collaboration between charities and local authorities during the pandemic, according to a new survey.

More than half of the charities surveyed for the Respond, Recover and Reset: The Voluntary Sector and Covid-19 project, which is led by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), Nottingham Trent University and Sheffield Hallam University, said local authorities have become ‘more responsive’ to their needs during coronavirus, and many charities have increased their engagement with local government.

The research shows a high level of collaboration between charities and local government during the past year, with 71% of respondents reporting that they were involved in working with a local authority.

Over half of respondents (52%) said that local authorities had become more responsive to their needs as a result of the pandemic.

There is also evidence of increased engagement and partnership between charities and local authorities during the pandemic, with 36% of respondents stating that they had increased their engagement with local authorities in the past year.

One in four (25%) respondents reported an improved relationship with local authorities due to the pandemic, while only 7% believe their relationship had declined since March 2020.

‘After a difficult year, the urgency of the pandemic has seen charities and volunteers working more closely with local authorities to respond to the immediate challenges of their communities,’ said head of networks and influencing at NCVO, Alex Farrow.

‘Ahead of the biggest ever set of local elections, it’s clear that this relationship will continue to be key as we work to ensure our communities are empowered, resilient and sustainable.

‘Charities and other voluntary organisations offer councils local expertise and knowledge and help services be tailored to the needs of communities. While over half of the organisations we surveyed saw an improvement in their relationship with local government, with the pandemic making local authorities more responsive, it’s clear that this is not universal and that lots of smaller charities have not seen an improvement.

‘We’re concerned about the level of funding local authorities will have to sustain engagement and rebuild communities in the months and years ahead. We continue to call for central government to strengthen the long-term financial sustainability of local authorities by increasing core funding. This would have a huge impact on charities around the UK.’


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