Charities 'should not be paralysed by election result', says CFG's Bradshaw

Voluntary sector figures have given their reactions to last night's surprise election result

Caron Bradshaw
Caron Bradshaw

Charities should not be paralysed by the uncertainty created by the surprise general election result, the Charity Finance Group has said.

Representative bodies across the sector have called on whichever new government is formed after the election led to a hung parliament to engage with charities.

Caron Bradshaw, chief executive of the CFG, said that none of the parties’ manifestos had had a "particularly compelling offer" for charities and, in the wake of the result, it was important for all parties go back to the drawing board to develop a vision for the sector that included it as a key partner.

She said: "To charities we say: don’t be paralysed by this result. A hung parliament will create uncertainty, but that is our prompt to step up and provide proposals to government. We know that charities will continue to be asked to meet the needs of our society and we should be bold in putting forward policies that break down the barriers to us being as effective as possible."

John Barrett, chief executive of the Small Charities Coalition, said that although the result had increased uncertainty it was also an opportunity.

"This is a time for organisations speak up about the big issues they face and their vision for a better future," he said.

"We encourage small charities to make contact with elected members, whether arranging meetings or visits with their local MPs or engaging with political parties as this new government is formed. We also encourage all MPs to engage with these admirable organisations."

Vicky Browning, chief executive of the charity leaders body Acevo, agreed, saying: "Civil society leaders now have an opportunity to help shape the future of our country. Charities should not shy away from speaking out as a new government forms." 

But Neil Cleeveley, chief executive of the local infrastructure body Navca, said that in a coalition governments tended to find it harder to push through the policies they wanted to pursue. This could mean that the subjects charities were concerned about were pushed to the back of the queue, he said, particularly with Brexit negotiations coming to the fore. 

Sir Stuart Etherington, chief executive of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, said the difficult issues facing the next government would make it more important than ever that the next government drew on the expertise of the voluntary sector.

"Charities should be seen as partners and critical friends in policy development in order to develop effective approaches to the country’s most challenging problems," he said.

John Low, chief executive of the Charities Aid Foundation, said it was worth remembering that charities continued to enjoy greater support than any political party.

"It’s charities that are strong and stable, working for the many, not the few," he said. "The MPs and ministers reeling from last night’s results should remember that, and listen."

Jay Kennedy, director of policy and research at the Directory of Social Change, said: "It’s vital that whatever government we eventually get looks to charities and wider civil society for answers. It needs to be a listening, engaging government. Such massive challenges simply can’t be overcome with a ‘government knows best’ approach."

He said a signal of how serious any government was about such an approach would be in how quickly the charities minister Rob Wilson, who lost his seat as an MP last night, was replaced.

Chris Millward, chief executive of the Institute of Legacy Management, called on the Conservatives to rethink their proposals to fund the care of elderly people by taking the money from their estates after they died, leaving them unable to make legacy donations in their wills. 

Peter Lewis, chief executive of the Institute of Fundraising, said strengthening and supporting charity fundraising, especially at smaller charities, and support for legacy giving should be at the heart of any government’s approach to partnership with charities.

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