Charities 'poised to axe staff'
More than half of England's charities plan to cut staff over the next three months amid expectations the financial state of the sector will get worse, a survey has found.
A third of charities say their level of service will decrease, according to the report by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO).
Since the NCVO's last quarterly survey, the proportion of charities expecting their situation to worsen over the coming year has risen from 61% to 64%.
Meanwhile, 97% of respondents thought the economic conditions within the sector would suffer over the next 12 months.
One respondent said: "Funding uncertainty has always existed in our sector. What is exceptional at present is the level of cuts and the speed at which they are being implemented.
"Frontline services are being slashed and burnt by local authorities via their contracts with voluntary organisations."
Another said: "The idea that the Big Society will provide all the answers is built on sand, as many of us will fold and simply not be there to provide the support for individuals disadvantaged by current cuts and initiatives."
Tessa Jowell, Labour's shadow minister for the Cabinet Office, said the survey indicated that "confidence levels of charities to deliver public benefit is at an all time low".
She added: "This exposes the clear contradiction between this Government's economic policy and the development of a 'bigger' and better society.
"It's impossible to argue the Big Society is being nurtured when the people responsible for delivering it are losing their jobs and cutting back on the services that they offer."