New research to see if vital third-sector organisations can survive funding cuts

Researchers at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) are to carry out a widespread investigation into the future of third-sector organisations (TSOs) hit by funding cuts.

A team of academics from De Montfort's People, Organisations and Work Institute (POWI) are concerned that new funding streams for these organisations, which support some of society’s most vulnerable people, may not be sufficient to cover their costs.

Building on earlier case study research in the Midlands, Professor Jonathan Payne, Dr Peter Butler and Dr Jonathan Rose are surveying local and regional TSOs to get a better understanding of how funding changes have affected their operations.


The ending of the European Social Fund (ESF), and its replacement by the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF), has put many TSOs in a less secure position, with reports suggesting some are making redundancies and paring back their offer.

TSOs provide tailored support to vulnerable individuals with complex needs and barriers to work, helping them build the self-confidence and self-efficacy needed as a first step in their journey towards work.

Such approaches are often seen as ‘what works’ for vulnerable groups, in contrast with the public employment system which focuses on rapid job entry, backed up by a sanctions regime of benefit withdrawal.

Professor Payne said: “TSO-led employability support services are at a turning point.

“They need a seat at the policy table and a network that can advocate for the importance of their role and the support they offer to some of the most vulnerable in our society.

“This survey will give access to key information which will help funders, commissioners and decision makers understand the scale and scope of the support being provided by third sector organisations, and how they are responding in the current funding environment.”

The survey runs until 12 January, after which Dr Payne and his colleagues will analyse the result and prepare a report with their findings.

To learn more about the survey or the wider project please contact:

Jonathan Payne, Professor of Work, Employment and Skills:

Dr Peter Butler:

Posted on Friday 5 January 2024

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