New report says improving data collection from charities will help government create more effective policies
"Despite being critical to so much of the response, the social sector struggled to make a case for emergency support, trying to explain a business model where income dried up, but demand escalated." Better Data, Bigger Impact: A Review of Social Sector Data (report from The Law Family Commission on Civil Society)
The lack of accessible data about the charity sector results in poorer policies from government, according to a new report.
The Law Family Commission on Civil Society report, Better Data, Bigger Impact: A Review of Social Sector Data, highlights the lack of data gathered during the pandemic as an example. It notes that “charities, community groups and social enterprises” created a “lasting illustration of why the social sector matters.” By co-ordinating emergency support to help deliver the vaccine rollout, for example, the sector “played a vital role in helping the country through Covid. It delivered where the private sector and government fell short.”
It says, however, that history may tell another story – of how, “despite being critical to so much of the response, the social sector struggled to make a case for emergency support, trying to explain a business model where income dried up, but demand escalated.”
In contrast, the report says, the private sector “was able to clearly and urgently argue its case based on recognised, reliable, and timely data.”
As a consequence, the furlough scheme was designed to meet the needs of the private sector, and was regularly amended to adapt businesses’ changing circumstances and needs. The charity sector, on the other hand, had to rely on an employment scheme designed for managing reduced demand, “even though surveys suggested most charities faced higher demand for their services than usual.”
The lack of data means we have little idea of how well prepared the charity sector is for the future, the report argues. There are five areas where data is needed: demography, capacity, sector health, the contribution the sector makes, and volunteering.
The authors make five recommendations to address the gaps:
They suggest that the Department for Culture, Media and Sport should take the lead in initiating conversations with the social sector to agree on a tendering process for the secretariat and identify potential co-funders from the sector.