The cuts to violence against women charities have grown so severe that one chief executive, Denise Marshall of Eaves, has decided to hand back her OBE. Having been given this honour for her services to vulnerable women, she feels she cannot keep it if she cannot still provide a good service to these women. Eaves runs England’s main service for trafficked women, women who’ve been forced to work in prostitution, and the Home Office has asked her to provide the service with 75% less funding.
What’s happening to Eaves is just one example of what’s happening across the country with the cuts to charities. And it’s brought attention to the fact that some charities have become very dependent on the state. Not necessarily because they wanted to get all their funding from the state, but because no one else would fund them. While Labour poured funding into charities, increasing it from £5bn to £13bn, the public didn’t step up with a similar increase in donations. Private donations to charities–you and me putting money in a tin– has not risen as a share of income since Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister. And in fact, the charity sector is relying on a smaller pool of donors who are giving more. Some sectors are harder to fundraise for than others. Violence against women is a topic people don’t really want to think about, and often that translates into them not supporting those charities that help the victims. But the charity sector as a whole also hasn’t really thought about new ways to engage people to encourage them to give more.
Which means we have situations like Eaves’ trafficking service, a valuable service for incredibly vulnerable women which is pretty much entirely paid for by statutory funds. If this service now goes, you can and should blame the government. But the blame also lies much more widely than that with a public whose generosity to charities is falling. And the leadership of the charitable sector which never paid attention to their long-term problems in fundraising.