Policy, Government and the Voluntary Sector

November Policy Update

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

Stuart Andrew named as new Minister for Civil Society 

The sector has welcomed Stuart Andrew, MP for Pudsey, Horsforth and Aireborough, as the new Minister covering the civil society and charity brief. Stuart has previous experience in the charity sector, having worked at the British Heart Foundation, Hope House Children’s Hospice and East Lancashire Hospice. He also worked as a Fundraising Manager at Martin House Children’s Hospice. In a recent speech at the Association of Charitable Foundations (ACF) Conference, Andrew pledged that he is “committed to listening” to charities and will monitor their rising costs. Fingers crossed, his background and knowledge of the charity sector will help to guide Stuart in his new position as Minister.  

Jeremy Hunt’s Autumn Budget 

On Thursday 17 November, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt MP stepped up to give his statement on the nation’s public finance. After a catastrophic ‘mini budget’ from his predecessor Kwasi Kwarteng, Hunt’s main objective was to showcase to the markets and international investors that they are back in control. Here are just some of the many policies Hunt announced: 

  • Benefits will rise in line with inflation (by at least 10% from April 2023) 
  • Local councils in England will be able to hike council tax up to 5% a year  
  • Top 45% additional rate of income tax will be paid on earnings over £125,140 instead of £150,000 
  • Additional £300 payments to pensioner households, and £150 for individuals on disability benefit 
  • NHS budget will increase by £3.3bn a year for the next two years, and spending on schools by £2.3bn 
  • The Energy Price Guarantee, which sets a maximum price per unit of energy for domestic energy users, will remain in place but increase to £3,000 per year from April.  

Find out more about how the Autumn Statement impacts the charity sector here. 

Lack of support for charities in the Autumn Statement  

Sector leaders have expressed their disappointment in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, asserting that his policies failed to address the impact of the cost-of-living crisis on charities. In his statement, Hunt confirmed that the government would continue to support charities with the Energy Price Guarantee up until April; however, many feel that this is not enough for charities, especially as they’re facing a triple squeeze – rising costs, rising demands and diminishing funding/donations.  See what sector leaders said here. 

Call for continuing energy bill support for voluntary organisations 

NCVO and the Civil Society Group have written to Grant Shapps MP, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, urgently calling for the government to ensure voluntary organisations get continued support from the Energy Bill Relief Scheme (EBRS) 

Under the current Energy Bill Relief Scheme, support is provided to businesses, voluntary sector organisations and public sector organisations up until April 2023. However, rising costs are set to go beyond April, meaning further support is critical. Charities are supporting communities that are the most vulnerable to the cost-of-living crisis, and without them, these communities will ultimately suffer. It’s therefore crucial that the government addresses both the depth of the situation for charities, as well as the sheer value of charities during challenging times. Read the full letter here. 

Get involved with this campaign today by writing to your MP. It’s important that Grant Shapps hears about charities’ energy needs and the impact of rocketing costs on charity services that people depend on. To save you time, NCVO has drafted a template letter for you. View it here. 

Elon Musk dismantles Twitter leaving charities wondering where to turn 

After a chaotic month or so at Twitter HQ, charities are left wondering what platform to turn to if Twitter ends up folding. In the space of a month, new owner Elon Musk has managed to uproot a social media channel that has served millions of people. Twitter has not only been a platform for individuals to share and voice both mundane and political opinions, but it has served as a vital communications platform for non-profits and charities. Charities and charity workers have been able to use Twitter as a vital resource to raise awareness of their cause, connect with beneficiaries, and create strong networks. It’s an important platform for the sector, and unfortunately as it stands there are very few alternatives. Find out more about how you can prepare your charity for the worst here.