The cost-of-living crisis is forcing a cut or closure in services provided by charities and community groups across Dumfries and Galloway.
A survey of third sector organisations revealed this week that 38 per cent had experienced a negative impact on services due to financial pressures.
Yet, this came at a time when more than half (52%) expected an increase in service demand due to the crisis.
Almost a fifth (17%) indicated that cost-of-living changes would require a completely new service within their organisation or more provision within a current service, due to a rise in user demand, just when budgets were being tightened.
The survey by Third Sector Dumfries and Galloway (TSDG) shows that many organisations are still usure about the impact of future energy costs – estimations of the change in bills range from a five per cent jump up to three times current costs.
Norma Austin Hart, TSDG’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “Our research reveals a worrying picture for the third sector and the services they deliver, with 28 per cent indicating a reduction in services and 10 per cent a closure.
“So many are feeling the pressure from reduced income and increased costs along with a higher demand for what they provide – a perfect storm of circumstances. We are calling on government at all levels to recognise that communities are struggling and are looking for quick practical responses.”
A number of third sector organisations are concerned at leaving fixed contracts and the jump in fuel for staff and volunteer transport is adding to that burden.
Just short of two thirds (64%) had not planned for the extra pressure on annual budgets, caused by the sudden increase in energy costs.
And worryingly fewer than half (45%) indicated they were confident that the increased costs could be covered by organisational reserves. Those organisations unable to do so were beginning to look for additional fundraising, making further energy savings, or closing premises and asking staff to work at home.
Another impact of energy rises was the added uncertainty to funding applications, with third sector organisations unsure what percentage extra to factor in to cover future increases.
TSDG will continue to work with organisations across the region to monitor the impact of energy costs into 2023.