Policy, Government and the Voluntary Sector

March Policy Update

Here's what's been going on in the world of policy over the past month.

Welcome to the March policy update. It’s been another eventful month in the policy world, with various guides and the awaited Spring Budget. Here’s a quick DSC round-up of the top news from the charity sector: 

Our response to the regulator’s social media consultation 

The Charity Commission’s (CC) consultation on draft guidance for social media ended on Tuesday 14 March, and we were one of many who submitted a detailed response. Although we welcome more guidance for trustees around creating a social media policy, we believe parts of the guidance have the potential to cause more harm than good, especially regarding sections 2 and 3 on managing risk.  

In our response, we outlined some practical recommendations for the CC to apply, including:   

  • The section on having a social media policy needs to give more examples, or even ideally a template for charities to use that can be changed and adapted  
  • The Charity Commission should create a 5-minute guide exploring in detail how to create a social media policy and the key aspects  
  • More encouragement should run throughout the guidance about the benefits of using social media and having a voice, and the importance of charities and trustees being able to advocate on behalf of their cause  
  • Make clear the dos and don’ts for using social media as a charity 

So, what now? Whilst we wait for the CC to make the necessary amendments, it’s important that as a sector we continue to have this conversation about social media. Keep an eye out for future events and articles on this topic.   

Curious about our response? We published it for people to reference and use. Take a look here. 

Big funds for charities in the Spring Budget  

A big announcement came to the sector this month when Jeremy Hunt, Chancellor of the Exchequer, set forth the Spring Budget. After vigorous campaigns from charity leaders and the Civil Society Group, the sector welcomed the news that a total of £100m would be distributed to help charities struggling with rising energy costs. It seems like the Government has finally recognised how important charities are to society and offered out more targeted support. On top of the 100m, the chancellor also announced additional funding for specific parts of the sector, including:  

  • £63m to support public pools with cost pressures and energy efficiency 
  • £10m to provide grant funding to suicide prevention voluntary, community, and social enterprise organisations 

How these funds will be distributed is currently unknown, however, it is crucial that the Government delivers this money in a relatively speedy, responsible and considerate way. The Civil Society Group has written to the Culture Secretary to offer its collective expertise about how to make sure this funding is used effectively. 

Find out more here. 

Oxfam releases an important inclusive language guide 

This month, Oxfam released its new inclusive language guide, helping charities to think deeply about the way they communicate with their beneficiaries. Although this guide sparked backlash from parts of the press, who shamed it for being an example of ‘wokery’, it’s actually a really vital resource for the sector as a whole. 

In the past, aid charities like Oxfam have been under scrutiny for perpetuating unequal power relationships stemming from colonialism. In fact, in June last year a government report by the International Development Committee (IDC) called Racism in the aid sector found overt signs of systemic racism in the sector. With its findings, it offered some recommendations for organisations to take, one of which was that aid charities “should have a conversation that includes the communities it works with to develop positive and inclusive working terminology.” This is exactly what Oxfam has done. 

This new language guide is just one example of Oxfam making the effort to decolonise their work, whilst simultaneously helping us as a sector avoid unintentionally reinforcing forms of oppression that we collectively seek to end. Check it out here. 

Charity Commission Chair’s comments draw more criticism 

In his latest article, Andew Purkis confronts the Chair of the Charity Commission, Orlando Fraser, on his latest pronouncements about charitable campaigning. According to Fraser, charities have a responsibility to model a better kind of public discourse, what he means by this is that charities should avoid inflammatory language, not get involved in heated debates or respond to government proposals in combative terms. For Purkis, Fraser’s words are more harmful than helpful as they lack consistency and substance. Additionally, Purkis notes that Fraser risks confusing the Commission’s existing guidance with his own ambiguous words, putting more pressure on charity trustees and leaders.  Read the full article here.