Later today Philip Hammond will be giving his first Autumn Statement, setting out how the economic landscape has changed over last six months and revealing how the government plans to react. We summarise some of the suggestions and analysis that have come from the charity sector.
This will be the first time the new Chancellor has the opportunity set out his vision. The landscape has changed markedly since the last Budget; Britain voting to leave the European Union and the election of Donald Trump in the US have contributed to an increase in global uncertainty.
But Hammond has said he won't meet Osborne's target for reducing the deficit by 2020, meaning there could be more money to dish out - though he has said not to expect too much.
Chief executives of the main sector umbrella bodies, led by the Charity Finance Group and including, NCVO, Navca, Locality, the Association of Charitable Foundations, Voice4Change England, Acevo, Small Charities Coalition, Social Enterprise UK, and the Institute of Fundraising, wrote to Hammond in October.
They called for measures to address the sector’s £1.5bn irrecoverable VAT bill and for a strategic framework to improve government grant-giving.
In addition to co-ordinating the sector-wide response, CFG made a separate submission which set out how the tax system could be reformed to save the sector £2bn by 2021/22.
Ideas include reducing irrecoverable VAT and increasing mandatory business rates relief.
Directory of Social Change
In a letter to the Chancellor DSC’s chief executive, Debra Allcock Tyler, called for the government to repay the Big Lottery Fund, increase funding for the Charity Commission, and increase grant funding.
She said: “We believe it is vital that we start a new dialogue between the sector and the government, so together we can tackle the challenges we face.”
Charity Tax Group
CTG also called for the government to tackle irrecoverable VAT.
In addition it called for reform of the Apprenticeship Levy and a delay to its introduction. It also asked the government to exempt charities from an incoming requirement to file digital accounts and to review the VAT system in light of Brexit.
CTG chair, John Hemming said: “Given the uncertainty within the sector following the decision to leave the European Union, the Autumn Statement presents an important opportunity for the Government to demonstrate its continued support for charities. This should include a commitment to review the scope of VAT refund schemes to tackle the pressure of irrecoverable VAT; extending Apprenticeship Levy contributions to volunteer training costs; and improved guidance and communication on the Common Reporting Standard and various Gift Aid issues.
“As tax policies are developed we urge officials to continue to consult key stakeholders, to avoid unintended consequences and identify important opportunities for simplification of the tax system for charities.”
Joseph Rowntree Foundation
Anti-poverty charity the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has urged the Chancellor to use the Autumn Statement to help the worst off.
In a briefing it set out four ideas to make this happen. They are:
- Uprate working age benefits in-line with the increase in prices of essential goods and services
- Work with businesses to improve productivity in low-pay sectors
- Increased funding and flexibility for shared ownership and affordable homes programmes
- Create a ‘rebalancing’ fund equivalent to the European Structural and Investment Funds to respond to local priorities and opportunities, and bolster the devolution agenda
For live coverage of the Autumn Statement follow #volsecAS on Twitter. Civil Society will have coverage later today of annoncements relating to the charity sector.