The latest State of the VCSE Sector research report has revealed new insights into the role of Greater Manchester’s voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The research has been commissioned through a collaboration led by Salford CVS. This collaboration has included: Action Together in Oldham, Rochdale and Tameside, Bolton CVS, Macc in Manchester and Salford CVS (as the 10GM partnership); other local infrastructure partners (Sector3 in Stockport and Bury VCFA); GMCVO; and Trafford and Wigan local authorities.  The research was undertaken by the Centre for Social and Health Research at the University of Salford. 

The reports analyse the significant social and economic contribution the VCSE sector makes in each of the city-region’s 10 local authority areas and across the whole of Greater Manchester and follows on from previous research conducted in 2010 in Salford and in 2013 and 2017 across Greater Manchester.

The data and evidence in this report are clear: the VCSE sector makes a significant contribution to our city-region – preventing need, reducing hardship, supporting those in crisis and driving social value. A particular focus on the sector’s response to COVID-19 highlighted the VCSE sector as a key player in revitalising and rekindling social and economic activity following the pandemic. Many organisations have adapted to new forms of work, mobilised increasing numbers of volunteers and developed creative solutions to the challenges of the pandemic.

However, the report warns that despite increased entrepreneurialism, VCSE sector income is in decline and many organisations have needed to use their reserves in order to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, many are weathering uncertainty about the long-term future of their contracts and grants, which enable them to do their vital work and support their local communities.

The report illustrates the amazing size, reach, spread, scale and diversity of the VCSE sector, with key findings including:

  • There are 17,494 voluntary organisations, community groups and social enterprises making a difference in Greater Manchester

  •  71% are micro organisations, with an annual income under £10,000

  •  19% of the sector identify as being a social enterprise 

  • £1.2 billion is the total income of the sector (2019/2020)

  •  75% of organisations have at least one source of non-public sector funds, bringing significant value to the city-region’s economy

  • 32% of organisations have used their reserves in the past 12 months

  • 496,609 volunteers (including committee/board members), giving 1.4 million hours each, a 7% increase from 2017. This bounce is largely due to COVID-19 and we would expect this to slowly drop away in the future

  • Volunteer time in Greater Manchester is conservatively valued at £692 million per annum (based on the real Living Wage £9.50 per hour) but in reality is likely to be much higher.

  • 74% of organisations who employ staff indicated that they paid the real Living Wage to their employees

  •  85% of VCSE organisations have had some direct dealings with other VCSE organisations across Greater Manchester. This includes 70% with local VCSE organisations, 51% with local Councils, and 63% with private businesses

Read the briefing here

Read the full report here