Charities have a vital role to play in the ‘Brexit Parliament’

21 June 2017

It is essential that government involve charities in policymaking if is to make a success of healing divides and establishing Britain’s place in the world post-Brexit, the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) says today.

On the day of the Queen’s Speech, CAF sets out 15 recommendations for government to implement during this two-year ‘Brexit Parliament’.

In a new report Strong and Stable for the Many, Not the Few, to be issued to all MPs, CAF outlines how Britain’s charities can play an integral role in tackling some of the biggest challenges facing the country over the next two years ahead of Britain’s departure from the EU.

They include giving charities a greater role in monitoring community cohesion, supporting a national drive to increase volunteering and giving charities a leading role in establishing Britain’s global standing.

Crucially, it calls on government to give a clear and unambiguous signal that charities have a legitimate role to play in speaking up for their beneficiaries. As well as calling for reform of the Lobbying Act or the exemption of charities from it, CAF argues that the principle of charity advocacy should be enshrined in statutory law.

It comes after a general election campaign which saw many charities refrain from engaging in legitimate activity and commenting on issues affecting their beneficiaries due to uncertainty around the Lobbying Act.

CAF Chief Executive Sir John Low said:

“The impact of the laws passed, decisions made and changes agreed during this parliamentary term will last a lifetime. It’s vital government gets this right, and charities should play a big part.

“Government and politicians come and go, but charities are the constant glue which bind communities together.

“During this time of seismic change, charities are needed now more than ever to bring the country back together and help secure Britain’s place in the world. This Brexit Parliament must use the unique expertise of charities to help rebuild communities, tackle social injustice and give a voice to those who may otherwise lack one.”

The full list of recommendations in the report is as follows:

  1. Local and central government should commission charities to help monitor community cohesion and take action to bring communities together.
  2. Directly elected mayors should work to unleash a new era of place-based philanthropy.
  3. Charities should be given a role in shaping devolution deals.
  4.  The Government should consult and partner with charities on tackling social injustices and give charities a clear voice in policymaking.
  5. Government, charities, donors and beneficiaries should work together to map charitable activity against need.
  6.  Government should put in place programmes and structures to get more people volunteering across different stages of their life.
  7. Each government department should promote payroll giving to its employees and MPs should use their payroll giving via IPSA to support local charities.
  8. The Government should repeal or exempt charities from the Lobbying Act. Failing that, it should at the very least implement the findings of Lord Hodgson’s review in full.
  9. The Government should enshrine the principle of charity advocacy in statutory law.
  10. The Government should engage with charities to develop new models and continue to grow the social economy.
  11. The Government should amend the Companies Act 2006  to improve transparency around corporative giving.
  12. The Government should provide support to upskill charities so that they are able to keep pace with digital developments and their charitable potential.
  13. Every government department should utilise the expertise of charities by consulting with them to ensure that the Brexit deal does not negatively affect their beneficiaries.
  14. The Government should put charities at the heart of their soft power strategy.
  15. The Government should use transitioning aid relationships to partner with national governments to grow civil society across the world and leave a legacy of the UK’s aid programme.
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