The Agenda: Government progress on its three key election pledges

From making it easier to run a charity to getting more resources into the sector, Kaye Wiggins looks at what the government has done so far and gathers together sector reaction

Houses of Parliament
Houses of Parliament



- Lord Hodgson's red tape taskforce has delayed its report until later this month due to the volume of responses. He expects "a small number of recommendations and further areas for investigation".

- CRB checks will be reformed so that staff and volunteers need be checked only if they work "closely and regularly" with children or vulnerable adults. Checks will be portable. Requires legislation.

- Gift Aid administration will go online in 2013.

Sector has welcomed CRB changes. Gift Aid could have gone online years ago.


- Capacitybuilders abolished in March, despite claims its programmes were becoming more effective.

- Comprehensive spending review of October 2010 ordained 27 per cent cuts to local council spending - sector hit hard, including infrastructure bodies such as councils for voluntary service.

- Cabinet Office infrastructure consultation document Supporting a Stronger Civil Society published in October. Its suggestions included asking private and public organisations to help voluntary sector infrastructure bodies and making greater use of the internet to disseminate information. The consultation closed in January, but no proposals have been published yet.

Some scepticism about ministers' warning to councils on "disproportionate" cuts to the sector and about government commitment to infrastructure.



- Chancellor George Osborne announced in the Budget that Gift Aid on the first £5,000 of donations could be claimed without declarations.

- He also announced inheritance tax at 36 per cent rather than 40 per cent for those leaving 10 per cent or more of their estates to charity.

- Giving White Paper expected to outline plans to make giving "as easy and attractive as possible".

Measures so far welcomed as first steps, but seen as small in overall scale of things.


- £15m from three departments including the Cabinet Office has been allocated to the National Citizen Service pilot for 11,000 16-year-olds this summer. Big cuts to v and Volunteering England.

- £10m Volunteering Match Fund and £42.5m Volunteering Infrastructure Programme announced in Giving Green Paper in December.

Consternation about cuts. No details yet about the two new funds.

Community action

- £15m Community Organisers contract given to Locality in February. First ten of 500 paid organisers were due to start last month. A further 4,500 will be volunteers.

- Tenders have been invited to run Community First, consisting of a £50m Endowment Match Challenge and £30m Neighbourhood Matched Fund programme in deprived areas.

- Localism Bill going through parliament will allow community groups to "challenge" to run local services.

- Liverpool, Eden Valley in Cumbria, Sutton in south London and Windsor & Maidenhead have been designated big society vanguards with an organiser, extra support and up to £100,000 from the Communities and Local Government department.

Was a new organisation really needed? Community First seen as similar to previous government's programme. Liverpool has pulled out of vanguard project.

Financial support

- Big Society Bank, using unclaimed assets and £200m provided on "commercial terms" by high-street banks, promised for April but not operational yet.

- Money from the £107m Transition Fund has been given to 200 charities so far.

- Funding from the Strategic Partners Programme has been reduced from £12.2m last year to £4m this year and will end altogether in 2014.

- The Big Lottery Fund's share of lottery good causes income has been cut from 50 per cent to 40 per cent, but the government has said all its grants should go to the voluntary sector. The BLF now answers to the Cabinet Office.

Banks dragging their heels? Views mixed on Transition Fund's usefulness. Partners programme under fire for excluding equalities bodies.


Public service delivery

- The Work Programme gave only two out of 16 lead contracts to sector bodies, but 289 have been listed as subcontractors.

- Promised white paper on changing the commissioning process for public services has not yet appeared.

Final programme picture unclear. White paper in 'too difficult' tray?

The Compact

- Compact governing public-voluntary sector relations has been "refreshed" and shortened.

- Independent Commission for the Compact has been abolished despite a pre-election pledge.

Goodbye also to statutory powers for commission


- 21 mutual pathfinders and a taskforce chaired by Professor Julian Le Grand have been set up.

Little progress so far


- See interview with Nick Hurd, Minister for Civil Society

- Read editorial

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