On Monday afternoon Philip Hammond delivered the latest Budget. This included key funding announcements for Universal Credit, the NHS and local government as well as a small number of targeted announcements for charities. From sector infrastructure organisations the general response was frustration that funding announcements were both small fry (in the grand scheme of things) and scattergun following a period of lobbying for more strategic investment in civil society building upon the publication of the Civil Society Strategy this summer. Front line charities acknowledged the small number of announcements to support people and families facing hardships created by austerity and welfare reform but stated that these measures do not go far enough.
Below is a summary of responses and links to further comment:
NCVO: 'Some big-ticket items important to the sector that went without mention'
Karl Wilding, director of policy at NCVO, said:
"We know lots of our members are concerned about the pressures on health and social care services and the impact of welfare reforms. Front-line organisations are really struggling with increasing demand. I hope today’s spending announcements will go some way to relieve these pressures.
"There were some welcome and useful changes to a number of specific tax regulations for charities which will make life easier, particularly when it comes to administering small donations and gift aid in charity shops.
"More broadly, charities are playing an ever-bigger role in society and we’d like to see the government reflect this. There were some big-ticket items important to the sector that went without mention. There is still no certainty on how dormant assets cash will be spent, despite an increasingly clear consensus among charities on the best way forward. Nor was there was any further explanation of how the shared prosperity fund – set to replace billions in European funding – will work. We hope to see further details on these issues in the very near future."
Read the NCVO blog on the budget which outlines specific measures in the budget impacting on charities and other areas of interest to charities.
Acevo: Scattergun announcements
“Ahead of the Budget Acevo joined with a number of other membership and infrastructure bodies, collectively representing tens of thousands of charities across England and Wales, to write to the chancellor asking not for handouts but for long-term strategic investment in civil society that would build thriving, resilient communities. “Much like the civil society strategy, the Budget set out a more positive vision from government than in recent years, but the substance is yet to be seen.”
Charity Finance Group: Announcements don’t go far enough
“Yet another Budget goes by without any strategic funding for the sector. The announcements on charity tax and some additional funding for local government social care and children’s services are to be welcomed, but they don’t go far enough. And it’s great to see funds for the military charities and air ambulances, however, worthy though those causes are, we desperately need the government to be more strategic in their funding of the sector as a whole.
“It was noticeable that the Budget was caveated with there being a successful outcome to the Brexit negotiations. Despite further funds being poured into managing the process however, a no-deal seems increasingly likely. In that event it’s difficult to see how the chancellor could hold off until spring to rethink spending.”
IoF: ‘Business as usual approach’
“The Budget overall seemed a ‘business as usual’ approach with not much that will be eye-catching for the charity sector. While we of course recognise the political complexities as the uncertainty over Brexit continues, following an aspirational civil society strategy published by government this summer we were hoping for a more ambitious programme announced today to invest in fundraising skills to help small charities go the distance and get charity tax working better to reduce costs for charities and encourage giving.
“Despite the stated move away from austerity measures, the reality is that communities are still seeing services cut and charities will have to continue to step in to fill the gap and need the right skills and support to do so. However, we’re glad to see the threshold for Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme rise from £20 to £30 as well as relieving some of the administration on Gift Aid Retail Scheme.”
Directory for Social Change: ‘The claim of the end of austerity rings hollow’
“Despite new measures on Universal Credit and another social care funding stop gap, the claim of the end of austerity rings hollow. The chancellor made big statements about mental health provision that many charities will want to unpack, because they’ve heard similar things many times before.
“The clock is ticking down to our departure from the EU and there was no new news on a consultation about the future UK Shared Prosperity Fund, or the potential development of the Dormant Assets scheme to support community resilience. We may have to wait until the Spending Review to get more certainty about the Charity Commission’s budget’.