Charity leaders disappointed by Budget announcements for the 'forgotten sector'

Debra Allcock Tyler (pictured) of the Directory of Social Change says measures for charities are 'empty phrases'; Acevo says the Treasury lacks strategic thought

Debra Allcock Tyler
Debra Allcock Tyler

Voluntary sector bodies have expressed their disappointment at the lack of positive announcements for charities in yesterday’s Budget.

The Budget contained announcements including a drive to increase the take-up of Gift Aid, VAT relief on fuel for air ambulances and inland water rescue charities, and confirmation that the rate of social investment tax relief would be 30 per cent.

But organisations including the voluntary sector publishing and training body the Directory of Social Change and the charity chief executives body Acevo said that the Budget contained little good news for the voluntary sector.

Debra Allcock Tyler, chief executive of the DSC, said: "I think overall the charity sector is turning into the forgotten sector under this government.

"Most of the other measures that relate to charities in this Budget are just empty phrases we’ve heard a hundred times or things that are already happening."

She said the government seemed "obsessed with supporting for-profit business and economic growth above all else. Mending the economy and dealing with public debt are clearly crucial, but ignoring the social sector and the millions of people it serves risks storing up other, very damaging debts for the future."

Sir Stephen Bubb, chief executive of Acevo, said the Budget contained "little good news for charities and social enterprises", and not much for the sector that it did not already know.

"The Treasury appears determined to treat the voluntary sector on a case-by-case basis," he said. "It continues to apply little strategic thought or planning to our future and the future of the beneficiaries we serve.

"The setting of the social investment tax relief is welcome but that, alongside a bundle of rehashed announcements, cannot be the government’s offer to a sector that employs 750,000 people and for whom 20 million people volunteer each year."

Both organisations expressed disappointment that there was no announcement from the Treasury on a new fund, expected to be worth at least £40m, that will support voluntary organisations that deliver services to vulnerable groups but are in danger of closing.

Nick Hurd, the Minister for Civil Society, told Third Sector earlier this month that he had persuaded the Treasury of the need for the fund, which will be available in 2015/16.

Joe Irvin, chief executive of the local infrastructure body Navca, said in response to the Budget that local voluntary organisations were picking up the pieces caused by a lack of funding for local communities.

"I wanted to hear how they will help charities to support the hardest-hit communities," he said. "I wanted to hear plans to support charities at a very local level to build resilience in communities."

Caron Bradshaw, chief executive of the Charity Finance Group, said the Budget contained "some good news elements for parts of our sector – but obviously the devil will be in the detail".

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