Poorest ‘hit hardest’ by Chancellor’s economic moves says charity chief

Clare Foundation new chief executive David White
Clare Foundation new chief executive David White

Charities will be left to pick up the pieces of yesterday’s (Wednesday) Autumn Statement, says a foundation’s chief executive.

David White leads the team at The Clare Foundation, a Buckinghamshire-based organisation that supports and helps good causes and sees first hand the impact that austerity has on some of society’s most needy people.

“It will very definitely hit those worst on the bottom half of the income scale,” said trained economist Mr White, 54, who took over at the Saunderton-based foundation in the summer. “Charities will be seeing more demand for their services while austerity also means local government grants and contracts are being reduced for those charities.”

But he added the impact of austerity, including capping the amount paid in benefits and reductions in government spending, has been a “consistent theme” of the last three years and it was having a cumulative impact over time.

The Clare Foundation has been around for three years providing office accommodation for 20 good causes, including Child Bereavement UK, Buckinghamshire Disability Service and Barnardo’s. Its HQ south of Aylesbury has about 10,000 sq-ft of space available for other charities to use.

The foundation also helps put professional volunteers, like lawyers and finance specialists, in touch with charities that need their services. Founded by entrepreneur Mike Clare, it employs the equivalent of 11 full time staff and has a turnover of “not quite £1million”. Previous chief executive Mike Elliott retired in the summer.

Mr White, a married father of four grown up children, has been involved in the voluntary sector for nearly 25 years. He left the corporate world after finding he got more job satisfaction from volunteering than he did by working in the coal industry and then the financial services sector.

He said: “I got significant warmth and reward from the voluntary sector and then had the opportunity to move into a voluntary sector job.”

A committed Christian, Mr White has worked with more than 60 charities, including Keech Hospice Care in Luton, as chief executive, trustee, chair and consultant.

In the next year or so Mr White, who lives in north Hertfordshire, will be focusing efforts on encouraging new tenants to take up residence at the Charity Hub to maximise opportunities and create a collaborative network for existing tenants. In addition, The Clare Foundation will concentrate on developing services to help other charities increase their effectiveness, including possibly helping charities that are struggling.

Mr White also wants to encourage an entrepreneurial spirit, to think of new ways to meet challenges. He said he would welcome new ideas to help the sector develop commercial methods, business expertise and entrepreneurism to the voluntary sector through training, mentoring, sharing best practice and networking.

For more information about the Clare Foundation and contact details visit www.theclarefoundation.org