Charity sector divided in reaction to the Spring Budget

08 Mar 2017 News

There were just three mentions of ‘charity’ in the official Budget document, but sector leaders are divided on whether this is good or bad news for the sector. 
Today’s Budget announcement contained very little in the way of specific announcements for the sector. Some sector figures have said that they are disappointed and that there was not more support for the sector in today’s announcements, but others said that stability was welcome. 

NCVO – ‘sector needs to rethink its approach’ 

Karl Wilding, director of public policy and volunteering at NCVO, said that while it was a “very quiet Budget for charities” it gave a clear indication of how the Chancellor, Philip Hammond, takes a more “strategic approach” than his predecessor. 

He said the funding announced for social care and schools would be of interest to those sectors. 

Wilding also said that given that ahead of the Budget “some people were nervous about Insurance Premium Tax and business rates” the fact that there is “stability and actually very little that we have to respond to is a good thing”. 

He said today’s announcement showed Hammond is taking a “more strategic approach” and showed he is not a Chancellor “who is interested in spraying money around”.  

“Previous Budgets included little bits of money and pet projects,” he said “the fact that stuff isn’t in there any more is a good thing”. 

He went on to suggest that charities looking to influence Hammond should think long-term and avoid “shopping lists” shortly before budgets. 

“Now we should be looking to 2020 and the election and thinking what do we want for 2020/25,” he said. 

Charity Finance Group – ‘we’re being ignored’ 

Caron Bradshaw, chief executive of CFG, accused the government of ignoring the voluntary sector and said the sector faced a “big task that charities face in reintegrating ourselves into the heart of government”. 

She said: “As a charity sector we need to make sure that the important contribution that we make is understood by politicians and that in the rush to make Britain competitive in the post-Brexit world, we don’t forget the value of a stronger society.” 

But Bradshaw said the “silence wasn’t all negative” because there were “no further increases in Insurance Premium Tax” announced. 

Acevo – ‘government doesn’t understand charities’ 

Vicky Browning, chief executive of Acevo, said the announcements of new funding for domestic violence was a positive step but that overall the Budget was “disappointing”. 

“The government does not seem to fully understand the depth and breadth of the skill and expertise which exist in civil society organisations. Skill which can help us reach our mutual goals,” she said. 

“This Budget is devoid of reference to the shared society or civil society. That seems a bit of a shame to us.”

She urged the government to demonstrate “some evidence that they’re committed to the shared society”. 

Charities Aid Foundation – ‘government needs to listen’

Hannah Terrey, head of policy and campaigns at CAF, called for the government to listen to charities. 

She said the Chancellor’s “pledge to make Britain stronger, fairer and better will require the government to work hand in hand with charities in order to deliver this promise and to bring a divided country back together”. 

Terrey added that: “It is good news that the government has given funding to some charities in today’s Budget but there needs to be more to the plan than temporary funding measures.”

Charity Tax Group – ‘hope for more support in autumn’ 

John Hemming, chair of CTG, said: “There were very few announcements that have a direct impact on charities and we hope that the Government will consider greater support for the sector in the Autumn Budget.”

CTG has published a summary of developments relevant to charities on its website. 

Navca – ‘missed opportunity on business rates’

Neil Cleeveley, chief executive of Navca, said he was "pleased to see extra £2bn investment in social care” and said the voluntary sector needed to be included. 

But he also criticised Hammond for not supporting calls for charities to get 100 per cent mandatory business rates relief. 

“As a signatory to the joint letter to the Chancellor calling for charities to get a mandatory 100 per cent business rate relief, not providing specific help to the voluntary sector is a missed opportunity to strengthen charities supporting the most vulnerable in society.”

Social Enterprise UK – ‘doesn’t deliver radical change’

Peter Holbrook, chief executive of Social Enterprise UK, said there were some “welcome steps” but that overall the Budget won’t “deliver the radical change the economy needs”. 

“We welcome the discretionary business rates relief fund which local authorities must use to support those businesses which offer the most sustainable economic, environmental and social value,” he said, but that the lack of mentions for the sector “is a worrying sign that the government may have completely lost sight of the value of the social economy”. 

Vidhya Alakeson, chief executive of the independent trust Power to Change also called for local authorities to support community businesses which are “working against a difficult backdrop, and councils can offer them a little more help.

“Local authorities should consider the help they can offer community businesses when using the new discretionary fund.”

Directory of Social Change - 'a total washout for charities' 

Jay Kennedy, director of policy at DSC, said: "Expectations weren’t high, but still this Budget was pretty much a total washout for charities – despite the fact that the charity sector is holding this country together at the seams. Government seems determined to impose ever more financial and regulatory burdens on charities without much concern about the impact." 

But also said that the charity sector needs to "up our game" to make itself heard". 

"It feels like we’re not being heard. How are we going to change that? Especially given the volume around big debates like Brexit? We need to up our game, because society needs charities to be at the centre of social debates – particularly as dangerous trends in social care, local government finance, and the health service affect communities and people across the country," he said.

Children England - 'Budget fails children' 

In a statement the charity said: "As councils across the country weigh up how far today’s £2bn funding announcement might help avert the immediate crisis for adult social care, today’s budget offered nothing at all to address the parallel crisis in children’s services."



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