Charity sector bodies call on next government to establish ‘civil society charter’

30 May 2024 News

By Farnaces/Adobe

NCVO and ACEVO have called on the next government to establish a “civil society charter” to help charities work more effectively with government. 

A joint manifesto by the membership bodies published today urges all political parties in the lead-up to the general election to consider developing a civil society engagement strategy to support the charter, underpinned by cross-government collaboration. 

The Voluntary Sector Manifesto, influenced by the organisations’ combined 17,000 members, also urges the next government to create a cabinet role to oversee public service delivery, protect the Charity Commission's independence and introduce 0% VAT for charities.

Seven key asks

NCVO and ACEVO’s manifesto asks the next government to engage charities in policy making via a civil society charter and engagement strategy.

It urges policymakers to establish a fairer partnership between government and charities on service delivery, with the creation of a dedicated cabinet office role and more investment in public services and local government. 

The manifesto calls on the next government to protect charities’ rights to protest, including by repealing the Public Order Act 2023, which gave police greater powers to “crack down” on protests when enacted last year. 

It asks the next government to provide a successor to the UK Shared Prosperity Fund and introduce a strategy for investment in social infrastructure.

The bodies call for volunteers to be prioritised, with the next government urged to introduce a right to request paid leave for volunteering and to guarantee people on benefits can volunteer without fear of losing government support.

It urges the next government to introduce 0% VAT for charities, extending charitable rate relief to trading subsidiaries, and support charities to lower their carbon emissions.

The manifesto urges the next government to make it easier for the public to give by streamlining gift aid, extending current giving schemes and appointed a philanthropy champion in government.

ACEVO: ‘We want to see our sector valued’

ACEVO chief executive Jane Ide said the general election is an opportunity for all political parties to demonstrate how much they value civil society. 

“It makes clear our offer to politicians of all parties: we, our members and our sector stand ready to work with you, and to bring to the table the knowledge, the expertise, the relationships and the understanding our sector holds in order to build together the solutions our communities need,” she said. 

“And it also makes clear that we want to see our sector valued, acknowledged and supported by politicians across the spectrum to be the powerful force for good that we know it can be.” 

NCVO: ‘We have the skills, expertise and good will to help’

Sarah Vibert, chief executive of NCVO, said: “By investing in this partnership, the government can harness the sector’s power to address societal challenges and bring about a new era of decision-making where the needs of different communities are heard and understood. 

“Our manifesto is the voluntary sector’s offer to a new government: we have the skills, expertise and good will to help you achieve real and lasting change.”

NCVO and ACEVO have urged all political parties to include support for the voluntary sector into their policies and manifestos. 

For more news, interviews, opinion and analysis about charities and the voluntary sector, sign up to receive the free Civil Society daily news bulletin here.

More on