Big Society will damage our charities

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DAVID Cameron’s Big Society risks widening the North-South divide with cash-strapped charities in South Yorkshire facing a much tougher future than those in London, it has been claimed.

A report by the Institute of Public Policy Research North think tank warned the region’s charities and voluntary groups are likely to receive far less business support than those in London.

The IPPR claims that because Yorkshire’s charities are more reliant on public funds, they will be harder hit as many government grants are withdrawn and replaced by a “culture of giving” from the private sector.

Around 39 per cent of community and voluntary organisations in Yorkshire receive taxpayers’ cash, compared to 33 per cent in London and the South East.

In London, there were last year more than 40 charitable donations of more than £1m.

Meanwhile, nearly half the charities and voluntary groups in Yorkshire are expecting to reduce staff over the next three months as the funding cuts bite.

Institute director Ed Cox said: “Our research shows the Big Society will not be fair to the North without changes to government support for philanthropy and charitable giving.

“Goodwill is beginning to wear thin as people in the voluntary and community sector try to deal with budget cuts, and organisations in the North cannot turn to big corporate or high value donors to make up the gap as London-based organisations can. We need to target what little money there is to organisations that struggle to find it elsewhere.”

The think tank has warned a new ‘community fund’ should be established in priority areas, backed by a government pledge to match a proportion of business donations for a fixed period.

Tory MP Stuart Andrew, former head of fundraising at Yorkshire hospice Martin House, said: “I would not agree the North is going to miss out if it has to rely on business and the community to get involved.”