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Charities forced to turn people away due to entrenched financial challenges


  • Two-fifths (41%) of charities say they cannot help anyone else and 12% are turning people away
  • More than half are worried about survival
  • One in seven charities are locked into unfavourable energy tariffs

Charities are struggling to continue delivering services to the people that need them, and some are turning people away. New research this month from the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) with more than 600 organisations, finds that more than half of charities (53%) surveyed say they are at full capacity for their services. Of these, two-fifths (41%) say they cannot help anyone else, and one in eight (12%) say they have been forced to turn people-in-need away.

Charities responding to the research included food banks, community groups and support services. A London-based girls’ charity said, “demand for our services has tripled but we've had to turn people away, which is a step we never wanted to take”. A Welsh homelessness organisation said, “our operations, more crucial now than ever, are stretched thin, forcing us to prioritise essential services while pausing others, leaving gaps in our support network.”

The rising demand for charitable services is showing no signs of slowing down. Around six in ten (59%) charities say that demand has increased compared to a year ago, with a third (31%) saying this has increased substantially. In a similar CAF survey in November 2022, 63% said demand had increased during the last year.

The continuing pressures of the cost-of-living crisis means that the challenges facing many charities of higher demand, lower income, inflated costs, have become entrenched. And things haven’t improved in the last year. Current figures show that 53% of charities say they are worried about surviving in the current climate. That’s the same percentage as a year ago, when 52% of charities were concerned about survival in October 2022. A youth services charity based in the North-West reported, “we have ever-increasing waiting lists and demand on our service. It feels like we are constantly firefighting.”

As charities look towards another winter of the cost-of-living crisis, energy costs are front of mind. Despite the Government discount scheme in place for businesses and charities, nearly a third (31%) of charities say they have not been able to get support to cope with the cost of their utilities. Additionally, one in seven organisations (14%) say they are locked into an unfavourable energy tariff. With all Government support for energy costs expected to end in March 2024, one-third (32%) of charities say they plan to invest in improving their energy efficiency for the long-term.

Neil Heslop OBE, Chief Executive of the Charities Aid Foundation, said:

“The relentless financial pressure on charities is continuing. Many are unsure how they will survive from month-to-month. Tens of thousands of charities are at full capacity, and sadly this means many are having to turn people away, people who desperately need their support.

“We can’t afford to have charities facing such uncertainty. The Chancellor recognised their critical work in the March Budget, but now a longer-term plan is required to build the fantastic, hardworking charity sector back up.”

Notes to Editors

  1. A total of 607 charities were surveyed online from 11th – 25th September. The data is unweighted.


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