October Policy Update

FundsOnline - October Policy Update

By Gabriella Poznansky, Digital Content and Communications Officer, DSC

In case you missed it, here’s a round-up of news, reports and events from around the sector that you should be aware of.  

Civil Society Group urges Chancellor Jeremy Hunt to provide more funding

The Civil Society Group is urging the Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, to address the high inflation that has eroded the value of grants and contracts in recent years. 

In advance of the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement on 22 November, their recent letter asks the government to: 

  • Implement an Essentials Guarantee’ that would embed in the social security system the widely supported principle that, at a minimum, Universal Credit should protect people from going without essentials. With this in mind, the cap on total deductions from the Standard Allowance of Universal Credit should be lowered from 25% to 15%. 
  • Ensure public bodies have the resources they need to deliver public services by increasing funding to enable them to uplift grants and contracts to cover the costs of public service delivery. 
  • Streamline and review the charity tax and compliance systems by:
    • Addressing the issue of irrecoverable VAT for charities
    • Reintroducing VAT relief for the installation of energy-saving measures in buildings intended for use solely for a relevant charitable purpose
    • Extending charitable rate relief to wholly-owned charity trading subsidiaries. 

Read the full letter here.  

Overall sector income has declined according to NCVO Almanac

The NCVO UK Civil Society Almanac 2023 report was published this October, shedding light on some key trends in the voluntary sector in the years 2020/21. 

The Almanac report has revealed concerning figures about the real cost of the pandemic on charities and the sector as a whole. Their new figures have shown that the pandemic resulted in the first sector drop in income in a decade. Despite government support during the pandemic, by 2020/21 sector income had declined by £1.8bn (3.06%). 

This drop in income seems to have disproportionately affected smaller charities. With perhaps less opportunity for government support, smaller organisations experienced a significant income reduction of 11% in 2020/21 compared with the previous year. 

The data also revealed a plethora of information regarding the impact of the pandemic on volunteering. You can read the full report here. 

Charities challenge Suella Braverman’s recent claims about Care4Calais

The Home Secretary Suella Braverman MP, has received criticism from charity sector professionals after commenting on the recent Charity Commission statutory enquiry into Care4Calais that found issues with the charity’s governance, finances and complaints system. However, despite the Commission not finding anything wrong with Care4Calais campaigning or political activity, Suella Braveman was reported by the Telegraph saying: 

“The Charity Commission finding serious misconduct at Care4Calais is concerning but not particularly surprising. As with certain immigration lawyers, it’s clear that some charities and civil society groups are actively undermining efforts to curb illegal migration… 

These groups are comprised of politically motivated activists masquerading as humanitarians. It is a con. But the British public won’t be fooled.” 

According to many sector professionals, including Care4Calais, Braverman clearly did not read the report properly, because the Commission found no fault with the charity’s political campaigning activity. Jane Ide, CEO at ACEVO, pointed out that the comment was both “irrelevant and politically motivated”, stating that it “clearly demonstrates that some in our political system would seek to encroach on and limit our sector’s legally defined rights”. See what they said here. 

Campaign on the brain

The Party Conferences saw some questions being raised about whether or not charities should be able to campaign on emotive and political issues, so we just wanted to remind you that you absolutely can. The Charity Commission’s recent guidance on social media makes this clear, as well as statements from the Commission’s Chair Orlando Fraser. This guidance tells us that we shouldn’t shy away from campaigning on political issues, however, we must take care to follow the law. DSC’s Director of Policy and Research, Jay Kennedy, has explained the current guidance on campaigning during election time, read it here. 

At our Engage 2023 conference, Enver Solomoan, CEO at Refugee Council, reminded us that it’s a time of excitement and opportunity, especially with the coming election of a new government. So go for it with your campaigns. Take a look at his 8 points for a successful campaign here. 

New research reveals 1 in 5 charities could disappear this winter

NCVO has launched a new ‘Cost Of Giving Crisis’ campaign to help support charities delivering vital services this winter. Their latest research, which surveyed over 580 charities and voluntary organisations across the country, shows that many charities are already under strain from the Cost of Giving Crisis. Without the urgent support they need, 1 in 5 (19%) say they could be forced to pause operations completely until the economic outlook improves, leaving the people and communities they serve at risk. Find out more about their latest campaign here. 

New VCSE Barometer results show a sector struggling

The latest wave of results from the VCSE Barometer study are out, providing an updated insight on the issues faced by the sector during the cost of living crisis. ‘A tale of two sectors’ has revealed how differently small and large charities are coping with high demand, inflation and reduced donations. Most concerningly, the survey results have found that more than a third (35%) of small and medium charities and over four in ten (44%) large charities reported that their finances deteriorated in the past three months. Proving that although there have been improvements in the economy, it doesn’t seem like it’s trickling into the charity sector.  Read the full report here.