A Green government would abolish the charitable status of private schools, support the social enterprise and cooperative sectors and repeal the lobbying act, according to the party’s 2015 general election manifesto.
The 84-page document, launched in east London this morning, promises "the removal of charitable status from private schools, with a view to absorbing them into the state system, but nevertheless ensuring that no schools are run for profit". It says the Greens would phase out the public funding of schools run by religious organisations.
The Green Party’s 2010 manifesto contained the same promise to remove private schools’ charitable status.
The Labour Party’s 2015 manifesto, which was launched yesterday, includes details about a plan the party announced last year to require private schools to draw up agreements setting out how they would support their state counterparts or face losing their business rate relief.
The Green Party has previously pledged to scrap the lobbying act. Its manifesto confirms that it would do so, "so that civil society organisations can campaign properly". It would also create a new system of registration for lobbying, for corporate lobbying in particular.
A Green government would "support social enterprise" – no further precise detail is given on this point – and "set local authorities free to run local enterprises for their own communities".
It would introduce "a cooperative development fund managed by community banks to finance new and expanding cooperatives", create a legal right for some employees to buy out their companies and increase access to finance for small firms by investing £2bn in a network of mutually-owned community banks.
The party would "ensure consistent long-term funding for a national network of rape crisis centres" – it is not made clear if these are the same centres currently run in England and Wales by the charity Rape Crisis – spending up to £100m over the next parliament. It would also support Time To Change, the campaign against mental health discrimination run by the charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, although no figure is given for any financial support this would involve.
Other manifesto pledges that could directly involve the third sector include more homes being built by community-led and cooperative initiatives and a commitment to increase the overseas aid spend from the current 0.7 per cent to 1 per cent of GDP.
The Green Party opposes for-profit privatisation of the NHS and other public services, although it would allow outsourcing to charities or not-for-profit organisations, a spokeswoman for the party told Third Sector today.