Sector leaders have asked the Treasury to include measures in the autumn statement to help the sector play a bigger role in delivering public services and increase both the fundraising capacity of smaller charities and the social investment-readiness of voluntary organisations.
The heads of 11 voluntary and social sector bodies – including the umbrella bodies the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, Navca, the Small Charities Coalition and Social Enterprise UK, the social investment wholesaler Big Society Capital and Compact Voice – have written to David Gauke, financial secretary to the Treasury, before the autumn statement, which will be delivered by the Chancellor, George Osborne, on 3 December.
The letter, which is labelled "Supporting Our Sector to Make a Bigger Difference", was published yesterday on the NCVO’s website.
It says: "We urge the government to use this autumn statement to leave a positive legacy by improving the capacity of our sector to support our society and our economy."
The letter says that although the government claims it wants the sector to have a bigger role in public service delivery, the value of contracts and grants from central and local government is falling.
The leaders say the government should provide more training for commissioners with voluntary sector partnerships in mind, expand the commissioning academy, focus on the ability of smaller charities to take on contracts and create, as previously suggested by the NCVO, a "centre for social value".
The letter says the autumn statement should commit the government to "maintaining a supportive framework of philanthropic tax reliefs", through reforms to the Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme, a campaign to promote Gift Aid to a broader range of charities and an expansion of the government’s endowment match challenge scheme.
It says the government should help small charities make better use of their fundraising potential. "We urge the government to provide financial support for a voluntary sector-led programme to reach out to small charities to increase their fundraising capacity," it says.
Social investment is also covered in the letter – it says there has been "significant progress" in this market in recent years, but adds: "Charities and social enterprises need support to develop sound business models and financial skills if social investment is to fulfil its potential in delivering social change."
The letter also welcomes the government’s plan to increase the limit on the new social investment tax relief and asks for an extension of the Investment and Contract Readiness Fund.
The letter asks the Treasury to recognise the importance of infrastructure in the sector, suggesting that the Local Sustainability Fund be extended for more than the initially scheduled one year, and that the government share data gathered from this fund.
The letter concludes: "We believe that these steps taken together would significantly improve the ability of voluntary organisations and social enterprises to make a bigger difference."