Only 57 per cent of the public think charities are trustworthy, says Charities Aid Foundation report

The CAF study has exposed marked differences between the way in which politicians and the public view the voluntary sector

57 per cent of the public think charities are trustworthy
57 per cent of the public think charities are trustworthy

MPs are more likely to view charities positively than are the public, a new report from the Charities Aid Foundation shows.

The report, Under the Microscope – Examining The Future of Charities in Britain, says that 73 per cent of MPs surveyed said they thought charities were trustworthy and acted in the public interest, compared with 57 per cent of the public. Eight-six per cent of MPs said that charities helped create a more vibrant community life, while only half (50 per cent) of UK adults said the same.

The research, which was based on a ComRes survey of 150 MPs and more than 2,000 adults carried out online between 12 and 14 June, found that the majority of the public (60 per cent) agreed that money given to charities by the government to run public services should not be a focus for spending cuts, compared with 45 per cent of MPs.

Twenty-three per cent of Conservative MPs agreed that charities should be protected from spending cuts, compared with 65 per cent of Labour MPs.

The survey found that two-thirds (65 per cent) of Conservative MPs agreed it was important for the government to expand the role of charities in the delivery of public services, while only 16 per cent of Labour MPs and 12 per cent of the public thought that should be one of the government’s priorities.

The survey found the public and MPs agreed that one of the government’s biggest priorities relating to the voluntary sector should be to find a way to encourage young people to volunteer and take social action, with 57 per cent of MPs and 31 per cent of the public selecting this option from a list.

The second-highest priority among MPs was to develop the social economy by supporting social enterprises, mutuals and cooperatives (selected by 48 per cent).

The survey found that the new intake of MPs – those elected in 2015 – were less inclined to agree that charities were sufficiently on the political agenda than other MPs, with just 43 per cent of newly elected MPs saying they felt charities and their needs were given the attention they merited in parliament, compared with 75 per cent of returning MPs.

It also found that 63 per cent of the public agreed that charities should speak out where they thought government policy would have a negative impact on people, while 93 per cent of Labour MPs agreed with this, compared with just 33 per cent of Conservative MPs.

"It's humbling that charities command such support from public and politicians alike," said John Low, chief executive of CAF. "MPs overwhelmingly see charities as having an important role to play in Britain, making our communities more vibrant and supporting public services.

"Politicians work closely with charities and see first-hand the difference they make. It will be vital that this makes its mark on government policy. If charities bear the brunt of savings not only would it be bad for most people’s quality of life, it would also damage the public purse, which benefits hugely from the work of volunteers and not-for-profit organisations."

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