We have recently had a budget for the country, courtesy of our Chancellor of the Exchequer. Like everyone else I have pondered what this means for the not-for-profit sector. Some money, to be sure, but how much will end up in the pockets of the smaller organizations who make up 96% (income less that one million pounds per year) of the sector remains to be seen. If it is a case of business as usual then it will be around 13%1.
The current financial state of the UK is well documented (and much commented upon): incomes are low and are continuing to be be low; taxes for the poorer have risen to its highest for 70 years; Covid 19 has had a long term impact on GDP (still the metric by which we assess a country’s ‘health’); BREXIT has an impact twice that Covid has had and estimates of how long it will take to get to where we were before range from 20 to 50 years; we have endured a period of austerity to reduce the national debt (very unsuccessfully).
Some conclusion from these instances mean.
- A poorer business sector means that government income from corporation tax will decrease.
- Businesses closing means more unemployment.
- Lower incomes for people means that the amount they can give is reduced.
- Incomes of trust funders (tied to their investments) will reduce.
All of the above mean that the demand for not-for-profit services is going to greater that ever, with the same income if we are lucky. It is a melancholy view, I know. Partly, this is from the nature of the author (and I do sometimes try and filter my opinions). Partly, this is from a sense of fatigue: are we ever making progress? It seems as if we are continually fire fighting and not putting in systems to eliminate our problems in the long term? In my darkest hours I am convinced that the 20 years that I have spent in the not-for-profit sector have been pointless as I have mad no difference at all.
In the last year or so I have seen some organizations close. Not many. And not as many as I thought would happen. With this, are the people who have come to me for advice on how to start up a community group. There have been more of the latter than the former by a long way. For something like 40 years we have had the mantra that ‘greed is good’ put in front of us, remember to look after number one.
It is comforting to know that for many, many people the impulse and desire to help others still prevails.
1. See the Charity Commission for data. https://register-of-charities.charitycommission.gov.uk/sector-data/charities-by-income-band.