The inside track: August 2019

Our latest update on what’s going on in Westminster that might impact charities, including reshuffle and by-election news, and the prospects for a government of national unity.


Parliament will return from recess on 3 September.

Debate on UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF)

There will be a backbench business debate in the House of Commons on 5 September, so if you currently receive European funding, this could be a good opportunity to brief MPs on what you’re looking for from UKSPF. NCVO and ERSA (Employment Related Services Association) have convened a working group of organisations with a stake in the replacement of the European Social Fund, and recently wrote to the new prime minister to call for equivalent funding for the new scheme.

People news

With a new government coming into office, we have seen a number of new ministerial appointments. I’ve had a look at some of the appointments that might be particularly important for charities.

Baroness Barran

Baroness Barran has been appointed as minister for civil society. She established the domestic abuse charity SafeLives, and was chief executive until 2017. She has previously worked for New Philanthropy Capital, after starting her career in banking, and has been a trustee of several charities – including Comic Relief. Along with other charities, we have welcomed her to the role.

Sajid Javid

Leadership contender, and former home secretary, Sajid Javid has been appointed chancellor of the exchequer. He started his career in banking, working for Chase Manhattan and Deutsche Bank, before pursuing a career in politics. His leadership campaign promised increased spending through reducing the speed of debt reduction.

Nicky Morgan

Former education secretary Nicky Morgan has been appointed as secretary of state of the department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport which has responsibility for charities policy. Ms Morgan has previously served as a treasury minister with responsibility for charity tax.

Michael Gove

Long-time cabinet member Michael Gove has been moved to the Cabinet Office where he will lead on no-deal preparations.

Simon Clarke

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland MP Simon Clarke has been given his first ministerial job, as exchequer secretary. Mr Clarke’s brief includes charities, the voluntary sector and gift aid. He served on the Treasury Select Committee after being elected in 2017. A Leave supporter, he was a prominent opponent of Theresa May’s Brexit deal.


After a successful recall petition, the Conservatives have lost Brecon and Radnorshire in a by-election to Liberal Democrat candidate Jane Dodds. Former MP Chris Davies contested the election for the Conservatives despite being convicted of offences under the Parliamentary Standards Act 2009.

Sheffield Hallam MP, Jared O’Mara, has indicated that he will stand down on parliament’s return in September, causing a by-election.

Treasury Committee

Nicky Morgan’s elevation to the cabinet means there is now a vacancy for chair of the Treasury Committee. Several ex-ministers are being linked with the role, including David Gauke, Steve Baker, Harriett Baldwin and Mark Garnier. Committee chairs are divided between parties so the new chair must be a Conservative MP, and will be elected by the whole house in the autumn.

Are we heading for a government of national unity?

As we head into August, there have been lots of hypothetical discussions about what would happen if there is a vote of no confidence in the government to stop a no-deal Brexit.

Government adviser Dominic Cummings has suggested that if the 14 day period following a successful vote of no confidence elapsed, triggering an election, the government would arrange for the election to take place after the UK had left the EU without a deal. This has led some to consider whether a temporary government could be formed to agree an extension to Article 50, before calling an election.

As Jeremy Corbyn is seen as unpalatable to some of those who would otherwise seek to support this arrangement, politicians including Sir Keir Starmer, Hilary Benn, Ken Clarke and Yvette Cooper have been touted as potential prime ministers of a government of national unity.

However, this seems unlikely to come to fruition. Labour have indicated (not unexpectedly) that they wouldn’t support such a government, making it impossible for such a pact to be agreed. Equally, it seems unlikely that Conservative backbenchers (and those who have left the party because of their former leader) would vote to make Jeremy Corbyn prime minister, even for a temporary period. So don’t be too surprised if you don’t see Ted Hastings from Line of Duty voting in Caroline Lucas as prime minister in September.

This means that if MPs do want to stop a no-deal Brexit, they will have to look at other legislative measures to do so.

NCVO Campaigning Conference

There’s less than a month to go until our annual campaigning conference on 6 September. This month we have announced a further session on learning from campaign mistakes. We’ll be joined by experienced campaigners, and will also be hoping to hear your stories of what you had learned from mistakes you have made.

NCVO can help you to navigate Westminster and Whitehall

Make sure your voice is heard by those making the decisions. We can provide a range of advice, support and training, contact for details.

If you’re looking for campaigning training, our new training website now has all of our courses in one place.

Our next Certificate in Campaigning, our flagship seven module course covering a range of campaigning tools and techniques with a focus on strategy, starts again in October, and is open for applications.

Brexit updates

We’ve produced a fact-sheet for charities to help them prepare for the impact of Brexit.

If you want to keep in touch with the latest Brexit news, it’s also worth following these:

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Chris is NCVO’s public affairs manager, focusing on parliamentary work. He started his career working for several MPs in Parliament, and has also worked in public affairs and policy roles for the Federation of Small Businesses.

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