Recently, the Minister for Finance spoke to voluntary sector representatives about the current financial context and around the Welsh Government’s upcoming budget. Along with our partners, we laid out the voluntary sector’s concerns about the current cost-of-living crisis.
During the meeting the Minister outlined the UK-wide economic and financial context and its likely impact on the Welsh Government. Voluntary sector representatives raised issues relating the impact of rising prices on their work as well as the importance of longer-term, sustainable funding levels from Welsh Government in retaining staff. We also discussed the challenges of the current strict rules on end of year flexibility.
COMMUNITIES AT RISK
Iwan Thomas, Chief Executive of PLANED who was at the meeting representing the communities network, said, ‘Whilst we know the impending financial challenges on households this autumn and winter, community assets and their volunteers are also at significant risk. In Pembrokeshire alone, there are 74 community halls providing key front line support, interaction, and activities within their communities to address isolation and well-being. Multiply this number by 22 counties in Wales, and it demonstrates the volume of key support structures within communities which are now at risk. Without continued financial support for them and their volunteers to keep the doors open and lights on, many more people will become isolated and at significant further harm.’
Along with this, the item will be the first on the agenda for the next Third Sector Partnership Council where we will be raising concerns such as: the impact of rising demand for charitable services affecting the sustainability of organisations, the unequal impact on marginalised groups, and the need for the voluntary sector to be involved in discussions on any solutions to this crisis. We are committed to publishing the paper work for this meeting so it can be used more widely.
We are also scheduled to raise these issues with other Ministers, including the Ministers for Health, Economy, and Climate Change. It is likely that we’ll be raising this with other Ministers too.
As the national membership body for the voluntary sector, WCVA wants to ensure that the voice of the voluntary sector is heard by government during these difficult times. Ruth Marks has already blogged on the importance of this issue to WCVA and WCVA has launched a survey to hear from the sector about how these issues are affecting them.
The cost-of-living crisis is likely to last a while, so ensuring good mechanisms for the voluntary sector to reflect their concerns, and the concerns of the people they work with, is going to be vital.
Please get in touch with WCVA if you would like to share your experiences, or have ideas for how the sector can support people during this time, please let us know. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to get in touch on that issue.