London needs a vibrant civil society in order to prosper, yet these are unprecedented times economically for London’s communities. The voluntary sector, for example, is experiencing ever greater calls on its services whilst at the same time facing reduced funding. London local government has taken a 33% real cut in service funding from Central Government between 2009/10 and 2013/14 whilst deeper public sector funding cuts will come during 2015/16 and beyond.
We wanted to understand how civil society in the capital can best be supported in order to optimise its positive impact on Londoners. We believe that the challenges presented by the economic downturn also present opportunities to review and re-think how civil society is supported in London.
Therefore, we funded London Funders to commission research into the support needs (traditionally shorthanded to infrastructure needs) of London’s civil society (including London’s diverse voluntary and community sectors). This included:
- detailed scoping to map out what is already in place, who funds it and what is vulnerable to funding cuts;
- how the expertise of the public, private and voluntary sectors in this area can be used for better effect;
- the scope for economies of scale and collaboration;
- how generalist and specialist provision can be balanced;
- what the gaps are (or are likely to be) and how they might be resourced (or not);
- identify opportunities for its development and how they might be resourced.