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Major whole-sector survey set to capture impact of cost-of-living crisis on charities

Charity sector bodies are joining together to launch one of the biggest surveys of the social sector in years.

People working at a foodbank
The survey will question charities on how the cost-of-living is impacting them and their services

Pro Bono Economics (PBE) and the National VCSE Data and Insights Observatory, run by Nottingham Business School (NBS), part of Nottingham Trent University, are partnering to conduct the survey exploring the impact of the cost-of-living crisis on charities and community groups.

A working group of 14 organisations, led by PBE and the Observatory, is currently developing the survey. The group includes sector bodies such as the Chartered Institute of Fundraising (CIoF) and the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), as well as the British Red Cross and Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales.

The group is set to launch the first in the series of quarterly surveys following Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng’s energy announcement. It is hoped the research will help to inform policymakers about the state of the social sector during the cost-of-living crisis.

Charities, alongside businesses and public sector organisations, have been guaranteed six months of support with energy costs as part of the government’s Energy Price Guarantee, which is scheduled to come into effect on October 1. There will then be a review in three months’ time to identify ‘vulnerable industries’ which will be eligible for further support after the six-month period ends.

PBE has previously raised concern about the lack of reliable data on the social sector available to policymakers. As part of its work for the Law Family Commission on Civil Society, PBE called on the government to close the “significant gap” in its understanding of the economy by establishing a dedicated social sector statistical account.

Professor Daniel King on the launch of the Observatory

Earlier this year, the National VCSE Data and Insights Observatory was established by NBS to tackle data gaps affecting the social sector. It aims to bring the whole sector together to better understand its strengths and weaknesses and articulate its needs.

In addition to PBE and the Observatory, the working group developing the new survey consists of the CIOF, NCVO, the Charity Finance Group (CFG), the British Red Cross, the National Association for Voluntary and Community Action (NAVCA), Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF), the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF), the Wales Council for Voluntary Action (WCVA), the Directory of Social Change (DSC), New Philanthropy Capital (NPC) and the Voluntary and Community Sector Emergencies Partnership (VCSEP).

Matt Whittaker, CEO of Pro Bono Economics, said: “Charities have a vital role to play in helping the country navigate the cost-of-living crisis, but - as is so often the case with the social sector - we know too little about its capacity to meet the demand it is facing. We also have very little data on how the crisis will affect these crucial organisations themselves.

“It is encouraging to see the sector coming together to work with the Observatory to plug this evidence gap.

This collaboration is a great example of the power of the Observatory in generating high quality sector-wide research and insight, which can support more effective decision-making in government and in the sector itself.”

Professor Daniel King, director of the National VCSE Data and Insights Observatory at Nottingham Business School, said: “The cost-of-living crisis creates pressing challenges for many charities, as rising costs meet falling income and escalating demand. Developing this survey to capture real time data about the impact of the crisis on the sector and how the sector is responding is really important.

“We are delighted that the Observatory is teaming up with Pro Bono Economics to work with the sector to co-design this survey, and to analyse it in an independent way. This survey provides an opportunity to get the best insights into the sector at a time of significant change.”

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    Nottingham Business School (NBS) at Nottingham Trent University (NTU) is a leader in experiential learning and personalisation of business, management and economics education and research, combining academic excellence with positive impact on people, business and society.  NBS has an unrivalled level of engagement with business, public and voluntary organisations. With more than 8,000 students, NBS is also one of UK’s largest business schools.

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    Nottingham Trent University (NTU) received the Queens Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education in 2021 for cultural heritage science research. It is the second time that NTU has been bestowed the honour of receiving a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for its research, the first being in 2015 for leading-edge research on the safety and security of global citizens.

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    NTU was ranked second best university in the UK in the Uni Compare Top 100 rankings (2021/2022).

    It was awarded Modern University of the Year 2023 (The Times and Sunday Times), Outstanding Support for Students 2020 (Times Higher Education Awards), University of the Year 2019 (Guardian University Awards, UK Social Mobility Awards), Modern University of the Year 2018 (Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide) and University of the Year 2017 (Times Higher Education Awards).

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    75% of NTU students go on to graduate-level employment or graduate-entry education / training within fifteen months of graduating (Guardian University Guide 2021).

    NTU is ranked 4th most sustainable university in the world and 1st in the UK for sustainability-themed Education and Research in the 2021 UI Green Metric University World Rankings (out of more than 900 participating universities).

Published on 27 September 2022
  • Category: Press office; Research; Nottingham Business School