Anti-lobbying clause put on hold by government

The Cabinet Office says it is reviewing the representations of all parties; many of those from the sector have been highly critical

The government has put on hold its implementation of the controversial anti-lobbying clause, after weeks of criticism from sector representative bodies.

In February, the Cabinet Office announced that a clause would be inserted into all new or renewed central government grant agreements from 1 May to prevent such funds from being used to lobby or attempt to influence parliament, local government or political parties.

But in a statement issued today, the Cabinet Office said it was considering "the comments of all interested parties" before the introduction of the clause and was pausing its implementation "pending a review of the representations made".

The statement said a decision on the form of the clause would be taken after a review.

No date for when the policy will be implemented has been announced, and no formal consultation has been launched. A Cabinet Office spokeswoman said there was no set timescale for implementation of the clause at this stage.

Responding to the announcement, the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, Acevo and Social Enterprise UK issued a joint statement that said: "Following correspondence with the Cabinet Office, we are pleased to see that the government has ‘paused on implementation’ of its anti-lobbying clause.

"We continue to call for the full and immediate withdrawal of this policy. The clause, as it stands, goes much further than it says on the tin and will deter many charities and social enterprises from making representations to government and parliament.

"We look forward to hearing more from government on how they will proceed – in particular, we have asked them to consider a formal consultation with the charity sector and other affected bodies.

"We also require urgent clarification of how this pause will apply to those organisations that already have grant agreements containing the anti-lobbying clause."

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