The inside track: December 2020

Our latest update on what’s going on in Westminster that might impact charities, including news about the Spending Review, the APPG on Charities and Volunteering and Boris Johnson’s new chief of staff.

Parliament

Brexit deal on a knife-edge

With just three weeks until the end of the transition period, it is still unclear whether an agreement can be reached on a new Brexit deal. Talks are being extended beyond yesterday’s deadline, but both the prime minister, and the European commission president Ursula von der Leyen have said that no deal is now the most likely outcome.

It’s difficult to know exactly what charities might have to do, until the new arrangements are clear, but you may want to make sure your organisation has considered the potential impacts. The government has developed a tool to help you think about areas that might be affected. In particular, you may need to consider the implications of changes around the use of personal data.

Spending review

A one year spending review was announced earlier this year, replacing the planned three year review, because of uncertainty around the economy in the wake of the pandemic, and took place on 25 November. NCVO’s finance policy expert Paul Winyard has written a round-up the main announcements.

APPG on Charities and Volunteering

The APPG held its inaugural meeting last week, with previous co-chairs Lord Hodgson and Baroness Pitkeathley re-elected alongside Fleur Anderson MP and Simon Fell MP. MPs Martin Docherty-Hughes, Danny Kruger, Ian Byrne, and Jo Gideon were elected as vice-chairs alongside Baroness Barker.

The group will be meeting regularly in 2021, so if you are interested in hearing about upcoming meetings, please join the mailing list.

NAO investigation of support for charities

The National Audit Office has opened an investigation into how well the £750m allocated to charities to provide support during the early stages of the pandemic has been spent. There have been concerns in the sector about the pace at which the money was distributed. The report is expected to be published in the spring.

Voluntary Sector Impact Barometer

As the impact of covid-19 continues to be felt by charities, it’s crucial that we understand what is happening in the sector, and that we pass that information on to government so that it can inform their policy response.

NCVO is part of an academic project to provide real-time data on how the sector is faring, through the Voluntary Sector Impact Barometer.

This data is really important for us in making the case for what needs to happen next to government, so if you are able to, please complete the next survey, which closes on Monday 14 December, and keep an eye out for future rounds.

What have we learnt about campaigning in 2020?

The coronavirus has forced us to do things differently across much of our work, including campaigning. Join us in the new year for our free online event where we will consider how we’ve overcome those challenges, what we’ve learnt, and what things we’re going to do differently as a result.

People news

The prime minister surprised a few people in looking outside his immediate political circle to appoint former treasury official Dan Rosenfield as his new chief of staff. Mr Rosenfield is seen as a pragmatic figure who can help to draw a line under the previous highly political approach. From a charity point of view, he has been a trustee of World Jewish Relief since 2013, and chair since 2016.

Other appointments

  • Susan Acland-Hood has been appointed as permanent secretary at the Department for Education. She has been doing the job on an interim basis since the departure of previous permanent secretary Jonathan Slater.
  • The government has published an updated list of cabinet committees and their memberships.
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Chris Walker 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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