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State of the Sector

Report by BritainThinks

November 2016

We commissioned BritainThinks to undertake a perceptions audit among leaders in the community sector. We wanted to better understand the role we currently play in the sector, as well as the extent to which people are aware of Big Local, our major programme working with 150 communities in England. We also wanted to ask about wider perceptions of the current state of our operating landscape, and it is this part of the analysis that is shared in the State of the Sector report.

The State of the Sector analysis finds that a more collaborative approach to community development – giving residents a greater say in how local needs are met – could be a lifeline for a sector overwhelmed by funding cuts and contract culture. Those interviewed reported that:

  • Funding cuts and a culture of contracts and competitiveness are forcing many national and local organisations to close while demand for their services is rising.
  • The sector is shifting towards collaboration with local communities, which brings the potential for vital long term benefits of resilience and connectivity.
  • A community collaboration model also brings challenges including the risk that it may ask too much of communities, and encourage the state to withdraw further from delivering essential services.
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