Tackling Poverty in the North: the role of third sector organisations

A new report published from the Third Sector Trends Study shows that thousands of charities help address poverty across the North of England.

The report, Tackling Poverty in the North: the role of third sector organisations, is based on a survey of 3,500 charities across the North East, North West and Yorkshire and Humber to capture their contribution in the region.

As a national charitable organisation which seeks to tackle poverty, Joseph Rowntree Foundation commissioned this short report to assess the extent to which Third Sector organisations contribute towards solving poverty in the North of England.

Author of the report, Professor Tony Chapman, commented:

Many charities which aim to tackle poverty in the north of England are working hard to influence local public sector organisations in order bring more resources to bear on growing demand for services. But many are struggling to keep up, 26% of such charities are drawing upon their reserves to meet demand compared with just 16% of general charities.

It is estimated that 5,000 Third Sector Organisations (TSOs) directly tackle the issue of poverty in the North of England and a further 3,200 TSOs address associated issues surrounding poverty.

The report shows TSOs tackling poverty are supported by 160,200 volunteers in the North of England who provide 11.5 million hours of work each year. The ‘replacement’ value of this contribution is between £83m (at national minimum wage) or £140m (at 80% of the average regional wage).

The number of volunteers is rising faster for charities tackling poverty than general charities – suggesting that this issue is highest on the priority list amongst members of the general public.

Over 45,000 people are employed by 3,900 TSOs directly addressing the issue of poverty in the North of England. The salary value of this work is between £912m and £1.1bn.TSOs which address the issue of poverty are generally optimistic that they will be able to raise sufficient income to meet the challenges of the future: 44% expect that their income will rise over the next two years compared with 32% of general charities.

However, there is also widespread pessimism about future levels of funding from public sector sources: 50% of TSOs tackling poverty think that statutory income will fall over the next two years compared with 46% of general charities.

The issue of poverty is rising on the political agenda. This research shows that TSOs which directly address the issue of poverty are the most likely to ‘strongly agree’ that they are attempting to influence local public-sector policy makers (50%) compared with 29% of general charities.

The Third Sector Trends survey was designed to examine how TSOs fare over time in the context of change. The findings presented in this report are based on a robust research methodology which has evolved over the last eight years to produce comparable time-series data.

The report can be downloaded from the Resources section of our website.