The five-minute policy manager – April 2015

As we are still digesting the detail of all the political parties’ manifestos published last week, here is a quick digest from the NCVO Policy Team of the latest news for the voluntary sector.

Business Rates Relief Review

Treasury has published a discussion paper on the current system of business rates relief and how it can be modernised, looking at changes in property value and use, the impact of the current system on business investment, and its responsiveness to economic conditions.

NCVO will be responding to the review, and to help us better understand how well discretionary rate relief is currently working for charities, we’re asking members to complete a short survey.

Read Michael’s blog for more detail on what the Business Rates Review means for the sector.

CFG have also published a policy briefing on charities and business rates.

Transparency in Government contracting

The Institute of Government has published a report on enhancing transparency in public service contracts, with the main recommendation that the government introduce a standardised transparency clause into its model services contract.

For more detail about how this ‘transparency clause’ would work and what it would mean for the voluntary sector, read Ruth’s blog on transparency in Government contracting.

Volunteer Internships

NCVO has produced new good practice guidance on volunteer internships, which sets out a number of principles for organisations to follow and will help them navigate the challenges in this area.  In particular, it is important that charities are not inadvertently taking advantage of this by ensuring that these volunteers get the genuine skills development that they are hoping for.

The guidance has been developed with input from Cancer Research UK, Macmillan Cancer Support, Marie Curie Cancer Care, The National Trust, and the RSPB.

The Big Local experience

Our Research team has recently completed an early evaluation of a programme that is addressing questions such as how we can best encourage active citizenship, and what it takes to build or rebuild a stronger sense of community in a local area. With the election looming, concern about perceived citizen apathy and disillusionment with the political system also rises up the agenda, so this summary of our initial findings is extremely interesting.

But of course it’s election time

Over the next couple of weeks we will be publishing more blogs on specific issues related to the manifestos and the General Election, but in the meantime here is a very useful summary of the main parties’ manifesto commitments relevant to the voluntary sector.

We have also created a ‘Manifesto Bank’ where you can find all the manifestos that our member organisations have created in the run-up to the 2015 general election.

And BWB Partner Simon Steeden (who is also a member of NCVO’s Campaigning Advisory Group) has set out the do’s and don’ts of campaigning in the lead up to the general election published by the Guardian.

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Elizabeth Chamberlain Elizabeth is head of policy and public services at NCVO. She has been part of the policy team since 2008, as the expert on charity law and regulation. Her policy interests also include charity campaigning, the sector’s independence, transparency, and accountability.

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