What charities want to see from the next government

15 May 2017 Voices

Since Theresa May announced a snap election, charity representative bodies and commentators have been scrambling to prepare their own manifestos, briefings and other material to make sure that parliamentary candidates are aware of the issues affecting charities. 

With political parties expected to publish their manifestos soon here is what charities have been asking for. 

NCVO

Sector umbrella body NCVO has published a manifesto urging the next government to widen access to volunteering and improve the availability of grant funding. 

Its five main points are: 

  1. Make it easier and more rewarding for people to volunteer – this includes asking the next government to introduce time off for volunteering 
  2. Support local communities for a generation to come – including a proposal that the next government use the £2bn dormant assets windfall to support community foundations 
  3. Make it easier for charities and volunteers to support our public services – suggests that senior public service leaders could become volunteering champions 
  4. Make it easier for people to build their skills and get a good job – recommends reducing red tape 
  5. Give everybody a stake in post-Brexit Britain – urges the next government to make sure it is simple for people from Europe to continue to work in the UK

Social Economy Alliance 

The Social Economy Alliance, which represents social enterprises, co-operatives and charities has urged the next government to involve community businesses in solutions and to reward social responsible businesses through the tax system

Peter Holbrook, chief executive of Social Enterprise UK, said: “Social enterprises are thriving, communities are co-operating to take control of local buildings, high streets and services; tens of thousands of people are investing in community energy, and employee ownership is empowering workers. This is an opportunity to reshape the boardrooms of Britain. It’s a chance to take back control and in a way that reduces inequalities, heals divisions and strengthens the country for everyone.”

Charity Finance Group 

On its election briefing CFG outlined how it thinks the next government could create a better operating environment for charities by reforming the tax system, better use of grants, increasing funding to the Charity Commission and ensuring Brexit does not make it harder for charities to help their beneficiaries. 

It points out that: “Charities have seen their costs increase steadily over recent years with increases in the National Living Wage, Business Rates, Apprenticeships Levy and Insurance Premium Tax as well as the continuing burden of irrecoverable VAT. 

“We have seen in a number of areas policies announced which have not properly taken into account the impact on the sector, whether proposals to charge probate fees on estates or asking charity trading subsidiaries to file quarterly accounts. These proposals risked costing millions of pounds and drawing charitable resources away from the frontline.”

NPC 

In an open letter Dan Corry, chief executive of charity think tank NPC, outlined four ideas to strengthen civil society

NPC called for the Office for Civil Society to be moved back to the Cabinet Office and for the minister for civil society to be part of the Cabinet. At the moment the OCS is part of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the minister reports to the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. 

The think tank would also like there to be more formal responsibility for charities to report on their impact.  

NPC also wants the government to use the opportunity of leaving the EU to improve procurement regulations and the Social Value Act. It suggests using the dormant assets money to set up a targeted social infrastructure fund. 

Lastly NPC urged the next government to open up its administrative data to help charities demonstrate impact. 

“The next government will need to be bold and radical to tackle all the challenges our country faces,” Corry wrote. “To be successful, it will need charities to be a key partner in building a new country. Our message is that the sector is ready and willing to help, but that the next government can make some long lasting changes that would enable charities to deliver even more impact.”

Charity Retail Association 

The CRA has published its first manifesto for charity shops and is asking the next government to “clearly recognise the vital social value that the charity retail sector generates for communities, economies and the environment across the UK”.  

It calls for a “fairer” system for business rate relief and asks for support for its volunteering campaign. 

The CRA would also like new legislation to make the clothing collections market more transparent and allow charity shops to carry out house-to-house collections at short notice. 

 

 

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