Third sector counselling organisations are facing falling incomes and increasing costs seriously hampering their ability to deliver services, says new research.

Figures published in the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) UK Civil Society Almanac, portray a bleak picture for third sector organisations. It shows that income to the sector has fallen for the first time in 10 years, with smaller charities and community organisations whose income is most reliant on grant-funding and public donations being worst hit.

The Almanac also found that despite increased government funding, the sector’s overall income in 2020/21 dropped by 6% from the previous year.

Grim snapshot

Jeremy Bacon, our Third Sector Lead, said:

 “The financial data published in the NCVO almanac provides a grim snapshot of the current challenges facing third sector services.

“We know that one-third of our members report doing all or part of their work in the third sector. BACP organisational members are increasingly sharing concerns about their ability to meet the increasing demand for psychological support against a backdrop of rising costs and diminishing income. Some are facing closure because of these pressures.”

Expert Reference Group

Last month, Charity Excellence Foundation also reported on the drastic impact that cuts are having on the sector. Their survey found that eight out of 10 of the charities surveyed reported being worse off. It also found that a third were facing significant financial challenges and another third having such serious cash flow problems they may have to consider reducing or closing services, making staff redundant, or close their charity.

We know the current situation is tough, so we’re working with our third sector Expert Reference Group of CEOs from counselling services in England to share a survey to capture trends in demand and available resources.

Round table events

We’re also hosting a series of round table events around the UK to help us understand the impact of the cost of living crisis on mental health. The next event will focus on the impact on third sector organisations.

The sessions explore the extent of which therapy can be used to support people through the cost of living crisis, the change in demand for therapy in the past few years, the groups and communities who’ve had their mental health most impacted by the cost of living crisis, and the impact of this on our members.

We’ll use the data and feedback from the survey and roundtable events in our ongoing policy work and cost of living campaign.

We’ll keep our members updated on the progress of the campaign and share the final report when it is published online in 2024.