Funding round-up: March 2019

Spring statement 2019

Spring statements are meant to be relatively low-key affairs compared to their autumn budget counterparts, but this years’ spring statement announcement was particularly subdued, being overshadowed by political impasse created by Brexit. Despite this, there were a few announcements that will be of interest to charities, including government plans to:

  • Mandate biodiversity for infrastructure and housing development
  • Conduct a review of the operation of insurance premium tax
  • Launch a call for evidence on the use of social investment tax relief and the simplification of the VAT partial exemption regime.

My blog summarises the announcement and highlights the importance of this year’s spending review for the sector and its beneficiaries.

Charity tax update

From 6 April there will be a welcome increase in the Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme (GASDS) donation limit (from £20 to £30) while 1 April sees the introduction of Making Tax Digital (MTD) reporting requirements for VAT registered charities with a taxable turnover above the VAT threshold (£85,000).

The Charity Tax Commission has concluded its consultation process. The Commission is now in the final stages and is developing recommendations for its final report due to be published in early summer. Drop me a line if you’d like to discuss the Commission’s work in more detail.

Social value in government procurement

The government has opened a consultation on how government should take account of social value when it awards contracts, including the introduction of an ‘evaluation model’ to test whether social value is being adequately incorporated into central government procurement. The consultation closes on 10 June 2019.

The Stronger Towns Fund (and the UK Shared Prosperity Fund)

The government has launched a £1.6bn Stronger Towns Fund to boost the growth of places left behind from more prosperous parts of the country.

Upon launch there was some confusion among charities as to whether the fund was part of, or connected to, the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF). The Communities Secretary, James Brokenshire MP, has since clarified that the fund is separate to the UKSPF. We’re now eagerly awaiting the UKSPF consultation which has been repeatedly delayed since November 2017, where we’ll be stressing the importance of ensuring any funding provided through the UKSPF – particularly the component that will replace the European Social Fund – is at least equal to the levels of funding currently provided by the EU. Drop me a line if you want to know more or would like to get involved.

Updates from the Fundraising Regulator

The Fundraising Regulator has published a list of charities that, as of 1 March 2019, have not logged on to the Fundraising Preference Service charity portal to access requests from the public to stop communication. It has also published an updated timetable for the changes to the Code of Fundraising Practice. The revised code will be published in summer 2019 and will come in to effect three months later.

Bidder guide to working with government

The Office for Civil Society has produced a guide for charities and social enterprises considering selling to central and local government or becoming part of the supply chain for delivering public services. The guide is designed to give an overview of the process and includes some practical examples of how to find opportunities and bid successfully.

Decrease in charitable giving

According to the latest Charitable Giving Report from Blackbaud, giving fell by more than 4% in the UK during 2018, a reversal of last year’s study which suggested it had risen by 2.8%. Meanwhile, online giving rose by 5.5%. The data is based on a relatively small sample, so we’ll be waiting to see if the trend is replicated across the board when CAF’s UK Giving report and our own Civil Society Almanac are published later this year.

New service for charitable bequests

A new system alerting charities to when they have been left money in wills is to be established by HM Courts and Tribunals Service. NCVO has been invited to join a working group with representatives from Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (ACEVO), the Institute of Fundraising and the Institute of Legacy Management with the aim of creating a replacement arrangement. An open letter to all affected charities can be found here.

NCVO Annual Conference 2019: Looking to the future

Join colleagues from across the sector on Monday 1 April to explore how future trends and tools can strengthen your charity and support you to develop as a leader. Last chance to book – don’t miss out!

Update from Funding Central

Each month we highlight some new information on just a couple of the thousands of interesting funding opportunities, funding news and funding deadlines listed on Funding Central.

The application deadline is now quite tight for this one (1 April) but we wanted to make sure you knew about the Act for Change fund. It’s an initiative between Paul Hamlyn Foundation (PHF) and Esmée Fairbairn Foundation (EFF), working in partnership with The National Lottery Community Fund. Grants are available for organisations across the UK that are supporting young people (aged 14 to 25 years) to challenge social injustice, find ways of overcoming inequality and give voice to the issues they are experiencing.

Also, check out our news item on Rosa’s Voices from the Frontline programme. Rosa is the first UK-wide charitable fund specifically aimed at supporting projects that promote justice and equality for women and girls. This is the fourth round of the Voices from the Frontline grants programme, which supports women’s organisations to shine a light on their fight for gender equality in the UK. Interested organisations will need to submit a 3 minute video as part of their application. Rosa are holding two ‘how to apply’ webinars on 27 March and 30 April to help applicants.


NCVO has a new training website to help you search and find our range of funding courses quicker and easier than ever before.

Here’s what’s coming up:



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Paul joined NCVO over seven years ago after working for a leading public affairs agency. Since then he’s led our policy work on a variety of issues, including welfare-to-work reforms, volunteering, the Compact, public service commissioning and procurement regulations. He now leads our work on funding and finance with a particular focus on charity tax relief and safeguarding EU funding post-Brexit.

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