Thanks George, now let us work together

Today the voluntary sector is digesting excellent news from the Chancellor that the proposed tax cap on charitable donations is going to be scrapped. We are pleased and grateful to the Chancellor for this decision.

Since the Coalition took office, NCVO and many others in the sector have welcomed many of their policy ambitions – to strengthen civil society, empower communities, increase giving and volunteering. From the Big Society speeches to the Giving White Paper, the Social Value Act to the Small Donations Scheme: Ministers’ commitment to the sector has been seen and appreciated.

In 2011, when the Chancellor announced his Budget measures on small donations and inheritance tax, he promised: “Do the right thing by charity and the Government will do the right thing by you.” This principle was called into question by the Budget a year later. Many of us were shocked – not just by the ill-thought-out proposal, but by the lack of consultation. The potential impact on voluntary organisations, and more importantly, those whose lives they touch, could have been devastating.

While today’s decision has alleviated these concerns, there have been other recent examples of good policy ideas getting lost in translation. The experience of charities hit by disproportionate cuts or sidelined by the Work Programme bears this out, while the Small Donations Scheme is also at risk of being overdesigned to the point of irrelevance. We don’t believe any of this is inevitable. Good policy ideas can be done better justice by effective consultation and implementation.

Two important points that we will be taking forward from today:

– Firstly, the Government has shown itself willing to listen. Relationships with the sector have been strained in recent weeks, but now need to get back on track. The economic and social challenges facing the country mean that now, more than ever, it is crucial for the Government to engage with voluntary organisations and those who work on the ground in communities, to inform policy design.

– Secondly, that our voice – as a sector – is louder when we speak together. It is so often adversity that prompts organisations to overcome their differences and corral around a simple message – like Give It Back, George. For those of us working at a national level, we must continue to take responsibility, to lead, to collaborate, to involve our members – large and small, and do whatever is necessary to champion our sector most effectively.

So today, we are glad to express our thanks to the Chancellor, and to all of those who led and participated in the campaign. We look forward to working more closely together.

Thanks George!

NCVO Policy Team blog

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Charlotte Ravenscroft was NCVO’s head of policy and public services. Charlotte’s wrote about funding, public service delivery, and strengthening the evidence base for voluntary action. She has also worked at The National Lottery Community Fund and the Department for Education.

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