Charities not transparent enough, say two thirds of MPs

14 Sep 2017 News

Two thirds of MPs consider making charities more transparent a high priority for the sector, according to a new survey published by research consultancy nfpSynergy.

According to data from the report, What do MPs think are the priority issues for the charity sector? published today by think tank nfpSynergy, 66 per cent of MPs in the major parties believe that making charities more transparent is a high priority for the sector, and 21 per cent believed it was the top priority for the sector.

The report, which surveyed 125 MPs from the two major parties after the last election, found that on some issues, Labour and Conservative MPs have “very similar” priorities for the charity sector, but on other issues they were sharply divided.

Alongside transparency, 17 per cent of MPs across party lines identified “finding more funding sources” for charities as the top priority, while a further 53 per cent said it should be a high priority.

Another 8 per cent of MPs said “preventing chief executive pay of over £200,000” was the top priority, while around 44 per cent said it should be high priority.

While only one MP surveyed said that comprehensively training charity trustees was the top priority, some 52 per cent of MPs said it remained a high priority.

Differences between Conservative and Labour MPs became starker around issues such as repealing the Lobbying Act and preventing charities from lobbying government.

MPs divided on lobbying and independent schools

The survey found that the charitable status of private schools, and the sector’s ability to lobby government, were the most divisive issues between the Conservative and Labour parties, when it comes to the sector.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, 58 per cent of Labour MPs said that preventing private schools from being charities was a high priority, compared with just 6 per cent of Conservative MPs.

The issue of preventing charities from lobbying also saw stark contrast in terms of party affiliation. In terms of blanket banning charities from lobbying government at all, 32 per cent of Tory MPs said this should be a high priority for the sector, compared to just 9 per cent of Labour MPs.

Over 50 per cent of Conservative MPs said they considered preventing charities who receive government funding from lobbying the government a high priority, compared to 17 per cent of Labour MPs.

Another stark point of difference between the two main parties was around repealing the Lobbying Act, with 38 per cent of Labour MPs saying this should be a high priority for the sector, compared to just 5 per cent of Conservatives.

Lobbying Act ‘not going to be repealed any time soon’

In its analysis of the report’s findings, nfpSynergy said charities shouldn’t get their hopes up about the Lobbying Act being repealed ‘any time soon’.

“The Lobbying Act is not going to be repealed any time soon. Not only is the parliamentary timetable stuffed with Brexit related material, but there is almost no support [for it] amongst Conservative MPs”.

nfpSynergy also said that Conservative MPs “will keep up the pressure on charity lobbying” because they “just don’t like it”. 


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