Policy, Policy, campaigns & research

February Policy Update

Here's a roundup of news from around the charity sector.

It’s been another eventful month in the policy world, with various Government interventions and bills that impact the charity sector. Here’s a summary of some of the happenings over the past month or so… 

The Charity Commission’s new strategy 

On Monday 26 February, the Charity Commission launched its new five-year strategy that is underpinned by an ambition to be fair, balanced and independent. To launch the new strategy, they held an event in London and invited leaders from around the sector.  

The Chair of the Commission, Orlando Fraser, gave a speech at the launch and spoke passionately about the importance of remaining independent and not letting the Commission be “misused or weaponised by any army involved in fighting (culture) wars”.   

The Commission also took the opportunity to outline its five key priority areas, these included: 

  1. To be fair and proportionate in its work, and clear about its role 
  2. To support charities to get it right, while taking robust action where it sees wrongdoing and harm 
  3. To speak with authority and credibility, free from the influence of others 
  4. To embrace technological innovation and strengthen its use of data 
  5. To be an expert Commission where its people are empowered and enabled to deliver excellence in regulation 

Sector leaders who attended commented on a positive shift in narrative, in fact, DSC’s Head of Policy and Research Jay Kennedy saw it as a collective movement away from the confrontational to the constructive.  

Check out Jay Kennedy’s thoughts here. 

The Government has withdrawn funding from the Inter Faith Network 

Last week, the Inter Faith Network (IFN) – a long-serving charity building connections between different faiths – received a letter from the Government notifying them that they would be no longer receive funding worth about £150,000.  

The Government has decided to pull these funds because Inter Faith Network appointed a new trustee, Hassan Joudi, who used to have a connection with the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB). The MCB is itself a charity, but the current government has a ‘policy of non-engagement’ with it going back many years.    

DSC’s CEO, Debra Allcock Tyler, has spoken up about the many problems in this decision, stating that it’s a ‘clear act of interference in the governance of a charity’. Many sector leaders agree that the Government shouldn’t be able to set a precedent like this.  

The Government’s decision could have a significant impact on charities, for instance, it could stop them recruiting trustees who are MPs or even people who are ‘disliked’. In a recent Civil Society article, Joudi writes: 

 “With the immense societal challenges facing Britain today, now is not the time to weaken our nation’s interfaith infrastructure or wreck governance in our civil society institutions.” 

Debra Allcock Tyler has released a statement on her thoughts regarding this decision, take a look here. 

The Civil Society Group has written to the Chancellor 

As part of the Civil Society Group (CSG), Charity Finance Group (CFG) has written to the Chancellor ahead of the Spring Budget on Wednesday 6 March 2024. 

The group’s submission sets out four main policy asks on behalf of the charitable and voluntary sector. If implemented, the proposals would support and protect the immediate and longer-term financial health of the charitable sector by providing greater financial and operational certainty.  

The measures would also ensure that the UK’s most vulnerable and disadvantaged communities would not be left stranded by gaps in vital service provision. Read the submission here. 

Six-week Martyn’s Law consultation launched closes on the 18th of March 

The Terrorism (Protection of Premises) Bill, also known as Martyn’s Law, is a new proposed bill to help keep people safe against terrorist attacks in public venues. The bill has come out of a campaign to commemorate Martyn Hett, one of 22 people murdered in the 2017 Manchester Arena attack. 

The proposed bill, which has not yet been formally introduced in Parliament, will mean that venues will have to follow procedures to keep the public safe. Premises will be considered ‘standard tier’, meaning they have capacity of 100-799 or ‘enhanced tier’, with a capacity of 800 or more. 

The Government has opened a consultation, hoping to get insights from those responsible for smaller premises which are designed to provide entertainment or leisure, especially those in the community and voluntary sector. So, if this applies to your charity, take a look at the document and tell the Government what you think.