In the document Sir Stephen Bubb, Chief Executive of ACEVO, calls on the political parties to “work harder to respect, restore and unleash the potential of our third sector”. He says it is “time for a full and frank dialogue between charities, community groups, social enterprises and the current and future government”.
The Manifesto’s 36 policies will be followed up by a wide range of engagement events between charity leaders and politicians ahead of the 7 May 2015 polling date. Following the 20 November launch there will be a Parliamentary launch on 22 January 2015, and further regional launch events around the UK.
The Manifesto argues:
– For a five-point plan to protect third sector independence in a ‘free society’, in the face of legislation like the Lobbying Act.
– For a Charter for Citizen and Community Rights in public services, to boost third sector delivery and ‘put the care back into public services.’
– For politicians to use £470m from the record fines imposed on banks that manipulated foreign exchange rates to support charities and community groups
The 5-point plan tells politicians to:
“1. Protect free speech of the third sector explicitly in law. Depending upon party policy this will be either through amendment of the Human Rights Act 1998s 7, through direct intervention by way of a British Bill of Rights or through lobbying for amendment of the European Convention on Human Rights Article 11.
2. Protect the freedom of the third sector to speak out against injustice. Communications with third sector regulators should be privileged and there should be a presumption in law that third sector campaigns constitute fair and honest comment.
3. Protect charities’ access to judicial review and will extend the right to legal aid to charities where they represent an at risk or underrepresented group.
4. Commit to a Single Third Sector Act unifying all of the regulation around charity campaigning. This includes appropriate provisions in the Charities Act, the Lobbying Act, the Freedom of Information Act, the Political Parties Elections and Referendums Act.
5. Work with and support an ongoing assembly of Third Sector organisations whose mission is to maintain the independence of the Third Sector’s voice and will set up an All Party Parliamentary Group for Third Sector Independence and Campaigning.”
Commenting on the launch of ACEVO’s 2015 General Election Manifesto, Rob Wilson MP, Minister for Civil Society said:
“It’s interesting to see such a detailed package of policy asks from the charity sector. I look forward to scrutinising and debating the ACEVO Manifesto in the weeks to come.
“Over the next 6 months positive dialogue between charity leaders and politicians is vital. This detailed programme is a first step and merits consideration by the Government and all political parties in the run up to 2015.”
Commenting on today’s publication of the ACEVO Manifesto for the 2015 Election, Blanche Jones, campaigns director at 38 Degrees, said:
“After a series of big money lobbying scandals and broken promises, the public’s trust in Westminster politics is crumbling away. More people are looking to charities to speak truth to power, and pinning their hopes on campaigners to fix the problems our country faces.
“But the third sector is facing the most hostile environment in decades. The Lobbying Act leaves corporate lobbyists untouched but effectively gags many non-profit campaigners, while a series of concerted political attacks on charities seems intended to silence them.
“If politicians want to win back trust from the public, they have to protect the right of campaigners to speak freely. Repealing the disastrous Lobbying Act would be a good place to start.”
For media comment please contact the ACEVO Press Office: 07825 894716 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Media Coverage so far:
The Times, “Big Society lies in tatters, say charity leaders”
The Independent on Sunday, “Forex scandal: crooked banks’ fines ‘should go to charity’, says ACEVO chief”
Charity Times, “Government urged to legislate to protect charities’ free speech”
London Live, Sir Stephen Bubb interviewed on ‘Wake up London’