Charity sector figures have praised Labour’s civil society strategy, published yesterday, calling it a “positive vision” for the party’s relationship with the sector if it were to get into power.
The party’s 14-page strategy, From Paternalism to Participation, focuses on the role it sees civil society playing in helping to rebuild public trust in politics by “tackling inequality of power”.
It includes pledges to increase grant funding for small charities, a ban on “gagging clauses” and measures to increase diversity among charity leaders.
CFG: ‘Positive vision’
The Charity Finance Group said the strategy offered a "positive vision" and welcomed its policies on grants, compacts and more involvement of charities on local enterprise partnerships.
Roberta Fusco, director of policy and engagement, said: "CFG is in favour of the strategy’s commitment to use the sizeable sums to be realised from dormant assets to provide support at community level, although we question whether the emphasis should be on innovation, as opposed to simply the delivery of quality services, whether new or existing.
"Other positive areas in the strategy include the focus on improving access to digital services in the sector, and plans to review the Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme.
"However the key issue here will be around strategic and sustainable funding of this commitment, because these goals cannot be effectively delivered through piecemeal short-term project funding, and need sufficient long-term support, particularly for local authorities."
CAF: ‘Ambitious scope’
The Charities Aid Foundation praised Labour’s “ambitious” proposals but urged the party to go further.
Sir John Low, chief executive, said: “Empowering local communities is essential for improving lives and it is encouraging to see Labour’s civil society strategy focus on mutual respect between government, civil society and the public.
“It is positive that Labour proposes replacing the Lobbying Act, enshrining in law the clear right for charities to speak out on behalf of their beneficiaries, as is their absolute duty in a democratic society.
“This strategy has an ambitious scope but it could go further and details are needed to flesh out what the party would do in practice.”
DSC: ‘Bold statement’
The Directory of Social Change (DSC) welcomed Labour’s policy on grants for small charities and its pledge to involve charities more in determining how the government’s Shared Prosperity Fund will be allocated to replace current EU funding.
Jay Kennedy, DSC director of policy and research, said: “We’re absolutely thrilled to see the new commitment to increase grants to ensure smaller charities can benefit, and to use funding from dormant financial assets to support community organisations and projects. We hope and expect these commitments to be part of Labour’s next election manifesto.
“The current government promised to consult about the future of EU funding last year, but there’s been nothing but radio silence for months. Labour has now made a bold statement on a pressing issue for communities across the UK, by committing to having civil society at the heart of this fund. Will this finally stir some Brexit-addled ministers into action?”
BSC: ‘Good emphasis on communities’
Big Society Capital, meanwhile, praised the strategy’s focus on supporting communities and reviewing social investment.
Cliff Prior, chief executive, said: “Big Society Capital wholeheartedly agrees with the emphasis placed on communities in Labour’s new strategy; communities and place are at the heart of our approach.
“We support any initiative seeking to raise the profile of social impact investment in the UK, and making it more widely available. Big Society Capital remains committed to supporting the growth of the sector.”