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CAF Policy Team

A champion for charities

Charities Aid Foundation


25 May 2017

Following the tragic events in Manchester earlier this week, election campaigning resumed today as UKIP launched their 2017 manifesto in central London.

UKIP is hoping that this general election will see a reversal of its fortunes from the recent local election where it gained just one seat and lost 140. But everyone knows that general elections are a different political beast from locals, and if UKIP can build on the 12.6% share of the vote it got in 2015 then June 8th could be a good day for Paul Nuttall’s party. The trouble is of course, post Brexit UKIP have been struggling to hang on to voters who are increasingly switching to Theresa May’s Conservatives. Whether they can concentrate enough votes in an area to win a seat in the Commons will be the big task for them.

UKIP is “at its best when it is being radical,” says the party leader in the manifesto foreword, and one would struggle to argue that their plan for government is anything but. They touch upon issues that all parties have covered, like investing in the NHS and building more homes, but if you look beyond those major announcements you’ll find some pretty bold policy proposals – like creating a flexible pension window so people can opt to retire earlier for a lower rate of state pension if they choose, or introducing a grammar school in every town.

Much like every other party to release their manifesto thus far UKIP have failed to put forward a comprehensive vision for the future of the charity sector. Despite citing a number of individual charities, or focusing on areas where community and specialist organisations can play a vital role in improving society, there remains a lack of acknowledgement of any role for the charity sector in the future, which is a shame. But there are several areas covered that will impact our sector if PM Paul took the reins, here’s a quick run down 

A cut to aid

So far, every other party that has published their manifesto has committed to meeting the UK’s pledge to spend 0.7% of GNI on international aid. UKIP, however, are calling for this to be reduced to 0.2%. UKIP’s manifesto argues that international aid spending in places such as Africa has not led to any benefits for recipients, and also outlines plans to try and move from an aid to trade relationship with countries that the UK provides aid to. The reduced aid budget, UKIP proposes, would come alongside the scrapping of the Department for International Development, whose responsibilities would be delivered by a minister working out of the Foreign Office. This break from the broader consensus is not surprising, and replicates UKIP’s stance at the 2015 general election.

Supporting charity shops and food banks

In their 2015 manifesto UKIP set out plans to exempt foodbanks and charity shops from charges imposed by local authorities to dispose of unwanted food waste and other goods. They reiterate that pledge ahead of this election.

Delivering public services

Despite the role that many charities play in delivering public services, it’s a function that has so far been overlooked in manifesto season. UKIP’s manifesto sets out a role for charities in working in partnership with a proposed Veteran’s Administration – a new government department that would provide veterans with access to support across areas including housing and mental health. They also have plans for a pro-active co-ordinating service for older and disabled people in every county to combat loneliness; combining resources from across the NHS, social services and voluntary sector – not unlike CAF’s proposed PCAS service. Public service commissioning is often raised by charities with service delivery functions and it should be noted that UKIP set out plans to launch an urgent independent review of public sector procurement.

Although not mentioned explicitly, charities are clearly closely associated with much of what pops up in UKIP’s manifesto, from providing support to veterans to combat loneliness in older age, or providing greater training around mental health. It’s a shame that UKIP, much like the other political parties, has failed to adequately acknowledge the contribution charities make in these areas, and set out ways they can work collaboratively with them in the future.

It’s also disappointing to see UKIP’s plan to slash the international aid budget and abolish the Department for International Development. Such action would severely diminish our global standing, something which will be increasingly important post-Brexit. Not only is our aid spending a sign of the UK’s generosity, but it also helps us to wield influence and promote democratic values. Cutting aid would hurt the most vulnerable people across the world, but also deliver a strong blow to our soft power influence.

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