Like many people, we’re apprehensive about the long term impact of austerity measures on traditionally excluded groups
In a city like Birmingham that has historically faced systemic patterns of inequality in some key public services – and is also facing higher budgetary pressures than some other localities – issues of inequality associated with austerity measures are a central and mainstream concern
This led us to establish Making the Cut. The project ran for 18 months, during which time we were regularly in contact with participants, it has is helped us to generate a better understanding of the impact of local public service re-design on front line services over time.
Who did we speak to?
We had some fantastic local organisations working on a range of issues across the city involved in the project, including but not limited to:
- Birmingham and Solihull Women’s Aid
- Castle Vale Community Housing Association
- Jericho Foundation
- Kikit Pathways to Recovery
- SIFA Fireside
- St Pauls Community Development Trust
What did we want to know?
Broadly speaking we were keen to consider:
- the key equality challenges for public services in the context of the cuts
- the patterns of inequality that need to be addressed in the city
- the key challenges organisations are facing in supporting beneficiaries going forward
What did we find?
1. More demand and less to provide it
- The impact of welfare changes continues to drive up need for services
- But it’s not just that there are more people using services. There are also different groups with different needs that require support
- And the needs of service users are increasingly complex meaning they require access to a wider range of support and will need it for longer
2. Changing funding practices
- More funding of consortia/partnerships
- Funding increasingly short term
- ‘Softer’ activities get cut
- Contracts more restrictive and prescriptive
3. Small organisations struggling most
- Move towards more partnership and consortia funding is more difficult for smaller orgs
- Trend of larger tenders favours larger organisations providing a broader range of services meaning they win more contracts, and smaller orgs fewer
4. The future is uncertain
- How can the voluntary sector continue to meet demand and bear the brunt of cuts?
- Funding cuts could turn out to be a false economy
- Commissioners and public authorities will need to be more proactive, and less reactive
- Current policy is simply putting off the problems until a later date
Read the final report with conclusions from the whole project:
Download: MtC_Final Feb16 (1.08 MB)