DSC Researcher, Rebecca Eddington, rounds up the policy news from around the sector.
You may have missed some of the charity news last week with the US Presidential Election taking centre stage. Don’t worry, the important bits are summarised here:
Civil society leaders ask for transparency in the appointment of the next Charity Commission Chair
With Baroness Stowell standing down in February, ACEVO co-ordinated a letter to Julian Knight, the chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee. Ten charities, including Debra Allcock Tyler, DSC CEO, on behalf of DSC, have signed the letter requesting that ‘transparency, accountability and political neutrality be prioritised in the appointment process for the next chair of the Charity Commission.’ Our own trustee (and former Charity Commission board member), Andrew Purkis, has built on the points mentioned in the letter, outlining the qualities he thinks are essential of the next chair: indepth knowledge and understanding of the charity sector; independence of Political Partisanship; independent-minded commitment to the public interest; and track Record of Governance of a similarly large, complex organisation in the public eye.
Charity leaders sign letter to Rishi Sunak regarding Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
Another collation of leaders, this time led by the Charity Finance Group (CFG) and backed by 31 other organisations including DSC, signed a letter to the Chancellor urging him to develop a Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme fit for purpose for social change organisations. It highlights that the current scheme forces charities to make a hard choice between saving salary costs but thereby reducing critical services or facing financial collapse. The letter asks the government to allow organisations to furlough staff but allow them to volunteer their time and skills back to their charity employer.
Charity sector facing loss of funding and job cuts
The Financial Times report that the ‘Charity sector faces £10bn funding shortfall and 60,000 job losses’ according to figures from Pro Bono Economics, again highlighting the importance of the #NeverMoreNeeded campaign. While many grant-giving foundations have responded to the pandemic by increase their spending, this is not enough to cover the shortfall. Data from NCVO and the Charity Commission shows that in 2017/18 nearly half of the charity sector’s income in the UK was from the public and with the closure of charity shops and cancellation of fundraising events that figure is set to massively drop this financial year.
Free school meals for school children
Boris Johnson, after weeks of campaigning led by Marcus Rashford, has taken a U-turn on providing free school meals for school children in the school holidays. A £170 million winter grant scheme, to be run by councils, will provide support for food and bills. The extension of the holiday activities and food programme will also include a £220 million scheme to cover the Easter, summer and next Christmas holidays too and see a cash boost of £16 million for the nation’s food banks. Manchester food banks have written to Manchester United, where Rashford pays, urging the football club to pay the National Living Wage highlighting that many of the people who access their foodbanks work, but are not payed enough. Cleaners and caters who work at the club have been struggling to put food on the table and the food banks hope that this simple step could help reduce child poverty within the city.
National Fund could be donated to charities
The £500 million from the dormant National Fund could be donated to charity, the High Court ruled yesterday. The National Fund was set up after the first world war with the aim of paying off the UK’s debt, but it is argued that this aim is so ‘remote’ that the money should be used for other charitable activities. The judge concluded that the courts had the power to change the aims of the charitable trusts but has deferred the decision to a future hearing. Fingers crossed on this one!