Charities will not face major new restrictions on campaigning after the introduction of a new law on lobbying, according to a statement released by the Cabinet Office.
Yesterday the National Council for Voluntary Organisations warned that the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill, which is due to have its second reading in the House of Commons next month, could restrict charity campaigning and could even make it difficult to fundraise.
The bill contains proposals to make it a criminal offence to spend more than £390,000 on campaigns that affect European, national and local elections. Elizabeth Chamberlain, a policy officer at the NCVO, said the bill’s definition of election campaigning was so wide that ordinary charity activities could be caught.
But a statement from the Cabinet Office said: "We are not significantly altering the test that relates to what charities or anybody else spend campaign money on.
"The changes do not prevent charities from supporting policies that are also advocated by political parties. A charity’s activities would only be caught by the provisions in the Bill if they were doing so ‘for election purposes’.
"If they are campaigning for election purposes then it’s right that they are covered by the regulatory regime."
A spokesman said the bill would not affect any campaigning that is not intended to promote the electoral success of any particular party.
The NCVO will meet Cabinet Office officials this week to express its concerns.