New Report: Clinks State of the Sector 2019
Published 18/12/2019 by
The State of the Sector Report is an annual report by Clinks, which aims to examine how voluntary organisations working with people in contact with the criminal justice system are faring across England and Wales. This 2019 edition of this report, marks the 7th year that Clinks have conducted this research, produced in Nov 2019 by Lauren Nickolls, Russell Webster, and Nicola Drinkwater and published on Clinks website.
This report is carried out through two data sources, firstly a survey published around Clinks network and secondly an analysis of the financial information that voluntary organisations* have submitted to the charity commission.
The core basis of the research paper was to ‘build an in-depth picture of the successes of the voluntary sector, the challenges organisations have been facing’, splitting its findings into four primary categories; firstly, the people organisations support, secondly, the services being delivered, thirdly the people delivering the services and finally how organisations are funded. In our overview, we found the following data which we believed would be relevant to our members.
57% of organisations told Clinksthat the number of people accessing their services had increased slightly or a lot.
- 39% Organisations set up specifically to provide tailored support to (or have a tailored service for) people with protected characteristics say service user numbers have risen, compared to 14% for organisations that provide broader services.
- Furthermore, for the third year in a row, Clinks has found that service user need is becoming increasingly complex according to 72% of organisations, as well as more urgent (according to 71% of organisations). Organisations cited that overcrowding in prisons as well as a lack of resources has created an unsafe environment, resulting in higher levels of violence and self-harm, which alongside a lack of resettlement support which has made it harder for those leaving prison to access support and organisations who can meet their needs.
- Responses to the survey show that 60% organisations within Clinks Network work both in prison and the community, ‘supporting people transition through the gate’.
- Over half stated that they work with people in the community who had not received a sentence.
“This shows that organisations also provide early intervention and preventative work, as well as long term work to support people on their desistance journey and break down the barriers for people with previous convictions”
- Over a third of the organisations interviewed by Clinks reported that staff are having to take on larger caseloads to meet growing service user need, ‘this puts greater pressure on staff and volunteers and is unsustainable’
- Additionally, 63% of organisations have stated that they are increasing partnership work with other voluntary organisations - Partnerships have been found to enable organisations to share resources, knowledge and good practice so organisations ‘can work more effectively to meet the diverse and complex needs of their service users’.
- Interestingly, responses to the Clinks survey shows that organisations are continuing to work creatively and flexibly so as to meet their service user need, with 54% stating that they are working increasingly flexibly with clients, whilst 47% told Clinks they were developing new services.
- Finally, State of the Sector has found that organisations continue to prioritise the involvement of service user’s in the design as well as delivery of new services. 67% of organisations informed Clinks that they consult service users about the design and delivery of their services whilst 37% informed have a specific service user forum, panel or council to facilitate engagement.
- However, Clinks highlights within their report that there are still improvements necessary as only 12% of organisations have indicated that they have recruited service users to their board of trustees.
- The report found that the majority of organisations are expanding their services at over 56%. Additionally, that organisations that ‘strongly agreed’ service users’ needs are becoming more complex and increasingly urgent, are also more likely to be reducing their services, are at risk of closure or changing the way they deliver their services.
- However, even though responses indicated that it is a ‘struggle to maintain services’ only 1% said they are reducing their services, ‘which shows the commitment of organisations to continue to support their service users’.
- Additionally, Clinks found that the majority of referrals to voluntary organisations’ services came from prisons at 74%.
- Overall, Clinks found that the workforce of voluntary organisations working in criminal justice is rising. With most voluntary organisations working in the criminal justice system relying on volunteers and that for many their volunteer numbers outstrip staff.
- Clinks found that the government is the largest source of income for organisations. In 2016/17 government income made up 66% of the total income of specialist criminal justice organisations and 51% of non-specialist organisations.
- Overall, Clinks found that smaller specialist criminal justice organisations are more reliant on government grants than contracts.
- However, specialist criminal justice organisations are more likely to receive more funding from local rather than central government.
- Moreover, Clinks found that ‘the smaller the organisation, the more reliant they are on grant funding from charitable trusts and foundations’.
- 68% of organisations that provided tailored support for women reported an increase in service users.
- 74% of organisations that were founded specifically to support women or that provided a tailored service for women felt that service user need had become increasingly complex. Consistent with the report’s findings for the sector on the whole.
- A few survey respondents cited the damaging impact universal credit had on women as to why service user need is becoming more urgent:
“Women appear to be struggling more financially and report Universal Credit to be the cause. ... women disclose poor mental health – [but] Mental Health Treatment Requirement Orders are limited.”
- Organisations providing tailored support to women are less likely to achieve full cost recovery on the contracts that they are delivering.
*Clinks states that the term ‘organisations’ is used to refer to voluntary organisations working people, and their families, in contact with the criminal justice system.