Charities ‘must have a seat at the table’ – sector reacts to historic Labour landslide

05 Jul 2024 News

Official portrait of Keir Starmer

Chris McAndrew, CC BY 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Charity sector leaders have responded to the general election result, which saw the Labour Party win a historic landslide victory after 14 years of a Conservative-led government. 

Civil society bodies urged new prime minister Keir Starmer to act on his promise to partner with the sector and “reset” the relationship between it and the state.

NCVO chief executive Sarah Elliott said today that charities “must have a seat at the table” with the new government while NPC CEO Dan Corry said it was “vital that civil society has a strong voice in Whitehall” if Labour is going to be able to deliver on its missions.

Lilian Greenwood, shadow charities minister before the election, said last month that a Labour win would not mean “tonnes of additional funding” for the sector, but that it does want to provide support. 

NCVO: ‘Charities must have a seat at the table’

Elliott said: “This election result marks a significant shift in our political landscape and while the dynamics may have changed, the role of charities remains as critical as ever.

“Over the past months, we’ve heard Labour commit to wanting to partner with the voluntary sector and that they see charities as vital to delivering against their missions.

“Now we must be really clear – charities aren’t just here to deliver. We must have a seat at the table from the very start of planning new policies and initiatives, so the voices of communities are heard.

“Now there is a real opportunity for the new government to grasp. The voluntary sector has an army of untapped and undervalued skills and potential, that will help turn this country around.

“Government must forge a new relationship with charities where we work in true partnership to build a better society. We stand ready and willing to do this.”

ACEVO: ‘Reset the relationship between government and civil society’

Jane Ide, chief executive, of ACEVO, said: “The Labour government has been elected on a promise of change and national renewal.  

“Civil society leaders will not only be vital partners in delivering that change, but also in making sure that the new government meets its commitment to govern in partnership with civil society. 

“We look forward to working with the new administration to reset the relationship between government and civil society – not for our sake, not for theirs, but for the sake of the people and causes we are all here to serve."

CAF: ‘Needs a fresh approach’

Neil Heslop, chief executive of the Charities Aid Foundation, said: “Charities are the backbone of society, experts in serving communities and innovating to deliver great social impact. But they have been through tough times.

“This new government needs a fresh approach to working in partnership with civil society – so it thrives and not just survives.

“A central enabler for this is a strategy to unlock greater philanthropy and social investment across the UK.”

NPC: ‘The shadow Labour team has built strong links with the sector’

NPC’s Corry, also a former head of the number 10 policy unit, said: “This moment of change is a powerful opportunity for charities and philanthropists to join forces with government to help improve people’s lives all over the country.

“The shadow Labour team had built strong links and good relationships with the sector in recent years – and we urge them to continue that into government even with the need for a new name to lead the DCMS team.

“It’s vital that civil society has a strong voice in Whitehall if Labour is going to be able to deliver on its five missions.

“As new ministers settle into their briefs, NPC and the whole the social sector – charities, funders, philanthropists, and impact investors – stand ready to assist with the mission of re-building our country.”

CFG: ‘A lot of work to be done’

Clare Mills, deputy CEO of Charity Finance Group (CFG), said: “This morning, we saw a significant shift in the UK’s political landscape. CFG, along with many other charities and social purpose organisations, is looking forward to working with the new UK government to tackle the complex challenges that society is facing.

“There’s a lot of work to be done at home and abroad: reversing social and economic decline; tackling the cost-of-living crisis, poverty and inequality; putting local government and public services on a sustainable footing and promoting unity, not division.

“We know charities are patching larger holes in the safety net of public services; this must change. We welcome a refocus on public service.

“Charitable and social change organisations work hard every day – in partnership with the public and private sectors, across diverse groups and communities – to deliver real and positive impact for the people and communities we serve, with expertise, insight and compassion.

“In the coming days and weeks, we’ll learn more about the new government’s priorities and the details of its policies, starting with the King’s Speech on 17 July.

“Our sector will continue to advocate for communities everywhere, work with policymakers to find positive and practical solutions to challenges, and hold the new government to account when necessary.”

Better Society Capital: ‘Ready to support’

Stephen Muers, chief executive of Better Society Capital, said:  “I would like to congratulate Sir Keir Starmer and our new government on taking office at a hugely important time.

“The social impact investment sector is ready to support. Through providing social and affordable housing, creating cheaper and more efficient public services and funding innovative tech products which change lives every day, social investment has proven to be a trusted mechanism to help government deliver on promises.

“By creating a policy environment which fosters social investment, the new government can leverage £50 billion of additional investment to make a positive impact across the country.

“We look forward to collaborating with Sir Keir Starmer and his new government, helping to develop solutions for making tax-payer money go further, and making society better for all those living in the UK."

Bond: “Act urgently’

Romilly Greenhill, CEO of Bond, the UK network for NGOs, said: “We call on the new Labour government to act urgently on its manifesto commitment to restore the UK’s reputation as an ambitious, reliable and equitable development partner.

“This will require the prime minister to show strong leadership and political will at upcoming global summits to develop key partnerships to tackle pressing issues such as global conflicts, extreme poverty, the debt crisis and climate change. 
“We also urge the prime minister to bring the treasury, the foreign secretary and the minister for international development together to set out a clear roadmap to restore the UK aid budget to 0.7% of gross national income, to respond to the global debt crisis and advocate for reforms to make the international financial system fairer and more equitable."  

UK Youth: ‘No time to lose’

Oscar Bingham, UK Youth’s acting director of research & impact, said the charity looks forward to working with the Labour government to support young people. 

He welcomed the party’s manifesto commitments to extend the right to vote to 16- and 17-year-olds and spend almost £300m a year on Young Futures Hubs. 

“These measures, alongside Labour's guarantee of employment-focused support, can deliver huge benefits to young people and we hope will be a high priority for the new government.

“We look forward to working with ministers and officers to bring these promises to fruition. With more than a billion pounds a year cut from youth services in recent years, there is no time to lose."

Hospice UK: ‘Want sustainable funding for hospices’

Responding to the election result, Hospice UK CEO, Toby Porter, said the charity looks forward to seeing how the new government will support the hospice sector.

“In their manifesto, Labour rightly made health and social care a priority, with a focus on reducing pressures in the NHS and on improving care in local neighbourhoods. Hospices are ideally placed to help, and stand ready to do so, with the right support.

“We hope to see strong commitments and actions to ensure sustainable funding for hospices, so they can continue their vital work amidst rising costs, and be there for the people who need them, now and forever.”

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