Policy, campaigns & research

Autumn Statement 2016: no vision for Britain’s critical social infrastructure

DSC News Release on the 2016 Autumn Statement

Billions for business infrastructure but little support or vision for Britain’s critical social infrastructure

In his first Autumn Statement, Chancellor Phillip Hammond offered a number of incentives, tax breaks and cash giveaways for business, but little help for hundreds of thousands of charities and community groups serving millions of vulnerable people.

This comes at a time when charities are struggling to cope with rising demand on their services, as years of austerity force more people to rely on voluntary services to meet basic needs and severe council cuts have led to grant funding being slashed.

Last year a report by LocalGiving found that 75% of charities surveyed have experienced an increase in demand while 85% of those say that they are unsure if they can cope with rising demand. A report from DCLG shows that the number of people sleeping rough has doubled since 2010. The Trussell Trust reports an increase in provision of emergency food of £163% in one year.

Reacting to the statement, Jay Kennedy, Director of Policy and Research at the charity Directory of Social Change said ‘there was the usual random allocation of Libor fines to selected military and uniformed charities, which is appreciated particularly by those lucky recipients. But overall this government lacks any clear vision or policy agenda to support civil society. We needed the Chancellor to send a strong signal on behalf of the new government that policy isn’t just about appeasing big business to deliver growth post-Brexit. Sadly that signal wasn’t there.’

Britain has a sophisticated and vital social sector comprised of hundreds of thousands of charities, community groups, and social enterprises. Millions of people depend on the services they provide for their basic needs.

Kennedy continued: ‘a number of initiatives, such as raising the minimum wage and raising the tax threshold will help many charitable beneficiaries, but are a drop in the ocean compared with the welfare cuts that have been implemented and are still to come.’

He concluded ‘it’s symbolic that the Chancellor found £400m to give away to venture capitalists for investment in tech startups, yet the government still refuses to pay back £425m in Big Lottery Fund cash that was taken to support the London Olympics, which could benefit crucial ‘social startups’ across the UK. Government needs to realise that without its hundreds of thousands charities and community groups, this country would collapse.’

For more information please contact Ciaran Price, Directory of Social Change by email (cprice@dsc.org.uk) or phone (020 7697 4295, 0795 155 3292). 

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Notes to editors:

  • Founded in 1974, the Directory of Social Change (DSC) is a national charity which supports an independent voluntary sector through campaigning, training and publications. DSC is the largest supplier of information and training to the voluntary sector, and its work helps tens of thousands of organisations every year achieve their aims. Learn more at www.dsc.org.uk
  • DSC runs the Big Lottery Refund campaign, supported by over 3800 charities and individuals. More information, including political and technical background, sign-up page, campaign actions for supporters, and other resources can be found at www.biglotteryrefund.org.uk