Association of Mental Health Providers

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State of the Sector 2024 Report: Our Response

New Philanthropy Capital (NPC) have released their latest State of the Sector report: Ready for a Reset. State of the Sector 2024 explores the views of charity leaders, charity users, and the public on where charities are with findings published from two robust, sampled surveys: one of 298 charity leaders and one of 2,062 representative members of the public – including 893 people who have used charity services in the last year. The findings reflect a sector that is relied on to deliver vital services to many but that is often facing financial strain, a rise in demand, and a need for more collaboration with the government.

It is well known that charities are key partners to public services, delivering billions of pounds of crucial services. These organisations provide services that many people rely on, which can include essential mental health support and care for those who are unwell or unable to work. A survey of The Association’s 300+ members revealed that over 8 million people are supported by mental health charities providing services – that is 1 in 8 of our population. Yet essential public services are at risk due to underfunded contracts held by charities. NPC’s report found that “62% of charity leaders… cross-subsidise these contracts by using other sources of funding, such as money from fundraising, to successfully deliver them.” A figure that has remained the same since 2017, which shows the sustained need for change.

The findings also suggest that “54% of the public wanted the government to provide more support for charities to work in poorer areas” yet Charity leaders believed they were delivering in areas where needs were greatest. This difference of opinion shows a gap in charitable work which can be solved by committing over the long-term to new partnerships between the government and the voluntary sector. Co-production and collaboration between local leaders and the voluntary sector would be beneficial in tackling local issues in areas where the need is greatest. Both smaller charities, which focus on unique local concerns, and larger organisations, which may have greater funds and scope, have valuable insights and skills to contribute to this partnership. Moreover, 59% of the public and 52% of charity leaders “want the government to work in partnership with charities more.”

Looking at the sector itself, this report found that “51% of leaders think their staff are fully or mostly representative of the people their organisation serves. 73% of charity users think the same.” There was also an increase in the amount of charities that consult those who use their services: “In 2017 54% of charities consulted their users, rising to 60% of charities in 2020, and 85% in 2023.” However, smaller and medium-sized charities were more likely than the major and super-major charities to “involve service users in the development of their strategy, with 65% of them doing so compared to 42% of the largest organisations.” The importance of co-production in charities is vast and our Lived Experience Advisory Group is one example of how we ensure our work is informed by people who use or have used support services with lived experience of mental ill-health.

We must seize the opportunity to encourage the government to work with the voluntary sector. Many of the outcomes we want to achieve such as: reducing inequalities, supporting communities, and creating better public health, are shared. Charities need to be in the rooms where decisions are made so we can work with the government to achieve our collaborative aims.