Government needs to 'rethink philanthropy' says Labour MP

15 Feb 2019 News

The government needs to “rethink philanthropy”, the co-chair of the all-party parliamentary group on charities and volunteering said earlier this week. 

Speaking at a parliamentary debate on Wednesday, Susan Elan Jones, Labour MP  for Clwyd South, called on the government to do more to support newer ways people donate to charity. 

“I believe that we need to rethink philanthropy,” she said. “The minister mentioned the development of Gift Aid, which is indeed very positive, and the Gift Aid Small Donations scheme, but we should also take account of the new philanthropy whereby people make donations that are backed up by supermarkets and other stores.

“There is no Treasury support on top of that, but consideration should be given to providing such support as part of the small donations scheme. That could work in much the same way as the donations of furniture to the British Heart Foundation.”

She also called on the government to change the legal status of trustees, an idea which she will present in a ten-minute rule bill on 6 March.

She said: “I think that it is time to give them a status in law similar to that of school governors, local councillors, magistrates and those in other categories when it comes to time off for their duties—unpaid time off. I should be grateful if the minister looked into that because it is time that we changed the law.”

Criticism of NCS

Faisal Rashid, Labour MP for Warrington South, echoed Elan Jones’ comments on volunteering.

He said: “Volunteers should not be expected to pick up the pieces when swingeing Tory cuts shatter our local communities.”

Meanwhile, Rushanara Ali MP criticised the National Citizen Service (NCS) for diverting funding from other areas.

She said: “Although the interventions to support the National Citizen Service have been welcomed in many areas, the reality is that the £1bn or so that has been spent in that arena has not been matched by support in other areas.”

She added: “We need more effective spending in the charitable sector, which desperately needs support.”

Martin Docherty-Hughes, SNP MP, rejected introducing NCS in Scotland, and said: “The call to have a National Citizen Service only detracts from investment in existing infrastructure in Scotland.”

However, Conservative MPs disagreed with the criticisms. Rachel Maclean MP said that the NCS has a “fantastic” impact in her constituency, Redditch. She said: “The NCS scheme enables [young people] to get out from behind the technology and screens that so often dominate the lives of young people today. It puts them in situations outside their comfort zone, and they have to work together in groups with young people they would not normally meet in their neighbourhoods or school classrooms. They are learning vital life skills at a really early age.

Labour MPs including Elan Jones and Hugh Gaffney also urged the government to amend the Lobbying Act.

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