With the General Election set to take place this Thursday, we’ve had a look at what each of the main parties’ manifestos says about issues that matter to charities.
With just four mentions of “charity” in the whole document, we learnt more from what wasn’t in the Conservative manifesto than what was.
- Unlike in 2015 the Conservatives did not include a pledge to allow five million workers to take three days a year as paid volunteering leave.
- On international aid the manifesto said that it will “maintain the commitment to spend 0.7 per cent of our gross national income on assistance to developing nations and international emergencies”. However it will look at changing the rules.
- Independent schools should do do more to earn their charity status. The manifesto said: “We will work with the Independent Schools Council to ensure that at least 100 leading independent schools become involved in academy sponsorship or the founding of free schools in the state system, keeping the option of changing the tax stus of independent schools if progress is not made.”
- The manifesto pledges to reform the asylum system and involve charities.
Labour’s manifesto was also short on charity-focused policies, though it restated its 2015 commitment to repeal the Lobbying Act.
- Repeal the Lobbying Act to “safeguard our democracy”.
- Support the co-operative sector. The manifesto said: “We will also bring forward legislation to create a proper legal definition for co-operative ownership. The National Investment Bank and regional development banks will be charged with helping support our co-operative sector. Labour will aim to double the size of the co-operative sector in the putting it on a par with those in leading economies like Germany or the US.”
- The Labour Party also pledges to spend more on public services and the NHS, though it is not clear how charities currently involved in delivering those services will be affected.
Again, not much specifically aimed at charities, but there is a commitment to strengthen the Social Value Act, which would make it easier for public service delivery charities to bid for, and win, contracts.
- Support social investment “ensuring charities and social enterprises can access the support and finance they need to strengthen their governance and deliver innovative, sustainable solutions to challenges in their communities”.
- Prioritise employee-owned and community benefit companies by “strengthening the Social Value Act”.
- Maintain free access to museums and galleries
- Protect arts and sports funding from National Lottery
- Maintain the commitment to spend 0.7 per cent of gross national income on oversees aid and “Continue building the resilience of poorer countries to resist future disasters, investing in healthcare and infrastructure and training emergency response volunteers, and respond generously to humanitarian crises wherever they may occur”.
UK Independence Party
One of UKIP’s key pledges is to scrap the international aid budget, but there were also quite a number of mentions of charity throughout its manifesto, mainly as evidence to back up some of its policies.
- Support for veterans through a new Veterans Administration, which will work with charities
- Exempt charity shops and foodbanks from local authority charges to dispose of unwanted waste
- Scrap the international aid budget. The manifesto says “we are not afraid to say charity begins at home”.
- It also recognises the role that retired volunteers play and said: “The voluntary sector would probably collapse without the help and support of those in later life"
The Greens would like to increase the international aid budget to 1 per cent of GDP.
There are no other mentions for “charities”, “volunteer” or “civil society” or “social enterprise”.
Scottish National Party
The SNP has also pledged to reform the Lobbying Act. “We support strict rules on lobbying and enhanced registration thresholds for campaigners but we oppose the restrictions on the activities of campaigning charities. We will push for those parts of the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Act 2014 which have been used to gag campaigning organisations to be removed.”
Plaid Cymru’s manifesto is also short on charity policies. They do promise to reverse cuts to legal aid and commits to maintaining the 0.7 per cent commitment to spending on international development.
Monster Raving Loony Party
In a mercifully short manifesto document, the Monster Raving Loony Party makes no specific charity commitment. However its education policy is to make schools have “have a Jumble sale or fete or other fundraising event at least twice per month to help raise funds for those little extras, such as desks, books, paper, pens etc,” which would presumably bring them under the jurisdiction of the Fundraising Regulator.