Autumn Statement 'neglects the role of the third sector', says Sir Stephen Bubb of Acevo

The head of the charity chief executives body says today's statement is a mixture of 'promising noises and fatal errors'

Sir Stephen Bubb
Sir Stephen Bubb

The charity chief executives body Acevo has said that today’s Autumn Statement is a mixture of "promising noises and fatal errors".

George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, announced measures including VAT rebates for hospices and air ambulances and an increase in the amount that organisations can receive under the social investment tax relief scheme.

Sir Stephen Bubb, chief executive of Acevo, said: "The Chancellor has made some promising noises, but he is guilty of one fatal error: he neglects the vital role of the third sector in building a healthy society and economy.

"His announcements on national infrastructure said nothing about the local, community or third sector. In his drive for a budget surplus, we are concerned that he will jeopardise already decimated local services further. This will harm not only our nation’s sense of togetherness but our economic productivity as well."

Neil Cleeveley, chief executive of the local infrastructure body Navca, said he was disappointed the statement did not confirm a proposed local sustainability fund to help local charities.

"It is important to look beyond the headline figures and remember that spending cuts often hit many of the people who can least afford it," he said. "They often turn to local charities for support when public services can no longer cope.

"However, charities are finding it tough to meet rising demand, while often facing reduced funding themselves."

Peter Lewis, chief executive of the Institute of Fundraising, said that his organisation would continue to work with the Treasury and HM Revenue & Customs on the ongoing consultation about Gift Aid and digital giving.

He said he hoped that the VAT refunds for search and rescue, air ambulance and hospice charities would include the VAT paid on fundraising materials and activity.  

John Low, chief executive of the Charities Aid Foundation, welcomed the developments on social investment tax relief.

‘’It is great that the UK is the first country in the world to have a special tax break for social investments, and it is good news that the government is taking forward plans to extend the relief, particularly to those investments made by third-party funds," he said.

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