Conservatives make gift aid and philanthropy pledges in manifesto

12 Jun 2024 News

Official portrait of Rishi Sunak

Chris McAndrew / UK Parliament

The Conservative Party has pledged to complete a gift aid review and work with charities to “unleash” philanthropy, if it wins the upcoming general election.

In its manifesto, published yesterday, the party also pledged to return aid spending to 0.7% of gross national income (GNI) “when fiscal circumstances allow”.

Its manifesto also contains a previously announced pledge to introduce a form of compulsory “national service”, which would involve young people volunteering or serving in the military.

The Liberal Democrats made a similar pledge on aid spending in their manifesto published this week and promised to repeal “draconian anti-protest laws” and reform social care.

Commenting on the party manifestos, Jane Ide, chief executive of ACEVO, said: “The UK is facing challenges that government cannot solve alone.

“Nurturing and developing the partnership between government and the voluntary sector will unlock the talent, expertise and innovation that is embedded in our communities.

“We want all parties to grasp the opportunity to work with the sector to forge a new and innovative relationship that helps to build a fair and thriving society.”

Gift aid pledge timetable ‘unambitious’

In a section on protecting heritage and institutions, the Conservative manifesto says: “Government has the power to leverage philanthropy for good causes and cultural institutions.

“We will work with individuals, businesses, charities and other networks to find opportunities to unleash this even further.

“We will complete the review of gift aid within the next Parliament.

Richard Bray, chair of the Charity Tax Group, which leads the cross sector Future of Gift Aid project, welcomed the Conservatives’ gift aid commitment but said “the timetable is disappointingly unambitious”.

“Gift aid provides vital support to charities and we hope that this review will proceed as soon as possible whichever party forms the next government,” he said.

“It will help unlock a further £500m in gift aid at a time when the sector needs as much support as possible.”

Aid spending and protesting pledges

The Conservative manifesto says: “We will return to spending 0.7% of GNI when fiscal circumstances allow. We will assess every penny of this money with a strict national interest test.”

Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrats pledged to return aid spending to 0.7% and re-establish a separate independent international development department, both of which were scrapped in the last parliament.

NGO membership body Bond’s director of policy and advocacy Gideon Rabinowitz welcomed the commitments to restoring the aid budget.

“However, concrete details and realistic timelines for meeting the conditions for returning to 0.7% are essential so these commitments are not just empty promises,” she said on the Conservative pledge.

Rabinowitz also criticised the Conservative pledge to “strengthen police powers to prevent protests or marches that pose a risk of serious disorder”.

“We are disappointed that the Conservatives want to provide the police with yet more powers against protesters. In recent years such laws have created a hostile environment for UK civil society, and this will only intensify that hostility,” she said.

The Liberal Democrats, meanwhile, pledged to “scrap the Conservatives’ draconian anti-protest laws, restoring pre-existing protections for both peaceful assembly and public safety”.

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