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Ashleigh Milson

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Charities Aid Foundation

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THE SPRING STATEMENT: WHAT'S IN IT FOR CHARITIES?

13 March 2018

Today, the Chancellor presented his first Spring Statement without the accompaniment of the usual red box or swathe of policy announcements. Most were expecting the Chancellor to break little new ground, however on closer inspection there were some announcements made today which will affect the charity sector and deserve attention. Following the growth and public finance projections we received interesting insights into future policy, and a number of consultations were announced.

Firstly, the announcement of a consultation on single-use plastics will be of obvious interest to environmental charities, but also to the sector more widely in its potential for a levy similar to those applied to plastic bags, which has raised millions for good causes since its introduction. The chancellor’s consultation will explore how changes to the tax system or possible charges could be used to reduce the amount of single-use plastics waste by cutting unnecessary production, increasing reuse, and improving recycling.

Our own research has shown that 70% of people are willing to pay a plastic bag charge if it goes to a good cause and we have urged the government to bear in mind the great work being carried out by charities and social enterprises in being part of the solution to reduce waste and increase recycling capacity. This kind of announcement also serves to remind charity campaigners of the power of public opinion in influencing policy, as this issue has shot quickly onto the agenda as a swirl of public opinion has surrounded the issue in recent months.

Also of interest is the new consultation on cash and digital payments in the new economy which could have implications for fundraising. It forecasts a rapid decline in use of cash, projecting that cash transactions will more than halve from 12 billion transactions a year to 5.8 billion between 2016 and 2026. As our UK Giving report has shown that cash is still by far the most common way people donate to charity, it is concerning that we may face a situation where people carry less cash and therefore give less to charity. This consultation is therefore a good opportunity for Government and charities to work together to embrace new technologies and ensure the decline of cash doesn’t get in the way of people’s desire to be generous.

Another announcement of interest is the Chancellor's plans to bring forward the next business rates evaluation to 2021, and then for it to happen every three years. Although charities do receive business rate relief, it will be important for property-owning charities to be aware of the affects this could have in their area.

Lastly, with the forecasts being upgraded somewhat, the Chancellor has outlined plans to set a path for spending from 2020 in the Autumn Budget. That could set the scene for some spending announcements in November, so doubtless organisations will be dusting down their bids.

Want to share your thoughts? Do get in touch with the campaigns team at CAF here: campaigns@cafonline.org

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