Cabinet Office fail to address sector concerns on anti-advocacy

In early February 130 charity leaders wrote to the Prime Minister urging him to reconsider a Cabinet Office proposal to impose an anti-advocacy clause on charities in receipt of Government grant. The concerted campaign against this proposal to restrict charity campaigning was driven by charity leaders’ network ACEVO and charity umbrella organisation NCVO.

In a joint statement today both organisations express their deep disappointment at Mr Hancock’s response yesterday to the concerns raised with the Prime Minister. In a joint statement, ACEVO Director of Public Policy Asheem Singh and NCVO Head of Policy and Public Services Charlotte Ravenscroft said;

“The response from The Cabinet Office is deeply disappointing. It fails to address the very substantial concerns raised by 130 Charity Chief Executives in their letter to the Prime Minster on February 10.

“This letter outlined why the anti-advocacy clause represents an existential threat to the relationship between Government and charities and to the people and causes they both serve.

“The effect of this threat will be that organisations begin to withdraw from the field because they cannot separate their advocacy from their wider purpose. Without a Government grant they cannot carry out important work, but with a grant qualified by anti-advocacy they cannot function in a way that fits their values of trying to do the best for their beneficiaries.

“Charities need to talk to their MPs about developments in their area, need to advise on improvements to policy and legislation, in short need to represent the people and causes that they serve.

“Matthew Hancock talks of the paramount need for the efficient use of public money but the result of the clause will be an increase in cost to Government as services disappear and inappropriate policies remain in place for lack of sector advice to Government.

“It is a sad indictment of the Government’s position that Mr Hancock says that concerns can be addressed by individual charities talking to their grant managers. It is ironic that he suggests charities endeavor to resolve problems by discussing them with government, when the purpose of his clause is to deter charities from doing precisely that.”

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