Labour Party publishes its civil society strategy

10 Jun 2019 News

The Labour Party has published its civil society strategy, including pledges to increase grant funding for small charities, a ban on “gagging clauses” and measures to increase diversity among charity leaders.

Its 14-page document, From Paternalism to Participation, focuses on the role it sees civil society playing in helping to rebuild public trust in politics by “tackling inequality of power”.

The strategy reaffirms the party’s long-standing proposal to repeal the government’s controversial Lobbying Act, and goes further with a pledge to ban any “gagging clauses” that limit what recipients of government contracts and grants can say publicly.

It pledges more grants for smaller projects “to ensure smaller charities can benefit, and our new approach to collaborative decision-making in public procurement will promote community wealth building and local employment”.

The strategy says leadership in charities at the moment “doesn’t reflect the diversity of the communities they serve” so it proposes a Charities Leadership Programme to support potential leaders from diverse backgrounds.

It pledges to boost trustee status so they are legally allowed the same “time off work” as governors and councillors.

Labour also plans to create a new Community Innovation Fund, using money from dormant assets, to provide cash to communities to run activities and projects in local spaces.

Other proposals include:

  • Strengthening Social Value Act
  • Increase charities’ use of technology
  • Charities consulted on Shared Prosperity Fund
  • Social investment reviewed
  • Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme reviewed
  • Updating the compact
  • Greater recognition of the interests of civil society across government
  • A new social enterprise strategy
  • Increased representation of charities on Local Enterprise Partnerships

Speaking at the launch of the strategy today, Labour’s shadow civil society minister Steve Reed said Labour’s civil society policy had not been right “for a large part of its history”.

He said the party had at one stage “missed the point of civil society because we were too statist” but then had been “too managerial” under New Labour.

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