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Short-term, cost-cutting culture is affecting health and wellbeing of voluntary-sector staff, says Unite


More than 90% of voluntary sector staff feel their wellbeing is being undermined due to the financial crisis facing charities, according to trade union Unite.

The findings, which Unite announced as its members were due to lobby parliament on Tuesday 9 March about the sector's future, shows that the way contracts are awarded in the voluntary sector - short term with the emphasis on cost-cutting - is having a detrimental effect on the sector's 750,000 employees and the services they deliver to clients and service users.

The issues raised will be addressed by the minister for the third sector, Angela Smith MP, in the House of Commons.

The survey asked: do you believe the way funding is currently structured for your service is having a positive or negative impact on:

  • the service received by your clients / service users?  15% were positive and 85% were negative.
  • you and your colleagues' wellbeing (for example, physical and mental health, dignity at work, health and safety, and development in the workplace) in your workplace? 8.2% were positive and 91.8% were negative.

Members reported low staff morale, high levels of stress and anxiety, frustration at the short-term nature of contracts and experienced colleagues leaving as a result of the pressure as well as reduced and stretched services for vulnerable clients.

Rachael Maskell, Unite's national officer, not- for-profit sector, said: "The shocking results of our survey show a sector hit by a short-term ‘revolving doors' contract culture which is having an serious adverse affect on employees' health and wellbeing. 

"We are at a crossroads and Unite wants to work with Government and voluntary-sector managements to plan for five-to-ten years ahead to bring stability for staff and services. We must end this ‘think only for tomorrow' culture."