After the unexpectedly decisive election last month, we consider the impact on the sector of a majority Conservative government.
The new administration
Rob Wilson has been reappointed as Minister for Civil Society, which provides some continuity. He has pledged to remove red tape for smaller charities and to continue to grow social investment.
A number of MPs with a charity sector background have been elected, including former deputy chief executive of Acevo, Peter Kyle and former chief executive of the Helena Kennedy Foundation and NUS president, Wes Streeting. This will hopefully increase the sector’s voice and influence in Westminster.
The Conservatives have pledged to reduce the deficit and run a surplus by 2018. Spending cuts will be introduced to help achieve this aim, including a commitment to save £12 billion from the welfare budget and lowering the benefit cap from £26,000 to £23,000.
Contracting and public services
It is likely that we will see a continuation of the themes seen in the last government, with a movement towards contracts over grant funding for service provision and the expansion of social investment initiatives.
The Conservative’s manifesto set out plans to build on the Work Programme and increase the involvement of charities and SMEs in the delivery of public services. The party also plans to scale up the use of payment by result contracts and focus on social investments such as social impact bonds, particularly in the areas of youth unemployment, mental health and homelessness.
Many charities will need to adapt to these funding developments and continue to seek alternatives to grant funding.
‘The Big Society’
‘The Big Society’ lives on, with a section dedicated to it in the Conservative manifesto. It describes volunteering as ‘the backbone of communities across Britain’ and sets out plans to promote the volunteering spirit by offering 3 days paid leave for volunteering for public sector workers and those working for big business.
The manifesto also sets out plans to expand the National Citizen Service (a personal and social development programme for 16 and 17-year olds) and make it ‘a rite of passage’ for every child that wants a place.
More generally, the Conservatives want to give people the power and support to set up their own social enterprises and encourage greater community engagement.
The Lobbying Act
There isno prospect of a repeal of the Act. However, charities can defend their right to campaign and exert further pressure for reform through Lord Hodgson’s review of the Lobbying Act.
Scotland and Europe
The landslide victory for the SNP in Scotland will lead to continued debate over Scotland’s relationship with the rest of the UK, including greater devolved powers and the possibility of a further referendum on independence.
Much of the first few years of the new government will also be focused on the UK’s relationship with the EU in the lead up to the promised in/out referendum and planned repeal of the Human Rights Act. This could ultimately have a big impact on the majority of the sector.
Join us to discuss the issues
We are holding a panel discussion on Wednesday 10 June 2015 to take stock of recent legal, financial and policy developments. We will be considering what lies ahead for the sector following the election and are pleased to be joined by Karl Wilding (director of public policy at NCVO) and Joanna Pittman (partner at Sayer Vincent).
You can find out more and sign up to the event here.