In a statement today the Cabinet Office has said it will make no changes to the Lobbying Act. Charity bodies are concerned this amounts to a blanket rejection of recommendations made by a government-commissioned review3, led by the Conservative peer Lord Hodgson.
This comes just weeks after over 100 charities sent a letter to Tracy Crouch strengthening calls on the minister responsible for the policy, Chris Skidmore, to overhaul the Act. Charities working to help the most vulnerable people in the UK and globally have repeatedly called for Lord Hodgson’s recommendations to be implemented.
The charities and campaign groups who signed the letter represented a wide range of domestic and global issues including health, social care, global poverty, human rights, environment, and vulnerable groups.
ACEVO CEO Vicky Browning said: “Charity leaders will be dismayed by the Cabinet Office’s decision to ignore wholesale Lord Hodgson’s recommendations to reduce campaigning restrictions. This decision is in direct contradiction with the views of not only Lord Hodgson but the cross party Lords Select Committee on charities and over 100 charity leaders from across the country.”
“Lord Hodgson insisted that his reforms would ensure the clarity and definition of campaigning boundaries. Without them, the Lobbying Act’s restrictions remain deeply intimidating. If these restrictions remain in place they risk dampening the confidence and ability of charities to speak out about the biggest social, political and economic changes this country has seen for over half a century.
“The prime minister has time and again stressed the importance of civil society to our country. In making this decision, Cabinet Office minister Chris Skidmore has also said he wants to convey a clear message that the government is not anti-charity or against civil society being involved in the democratic process. However at the moment actions are speaking much louder than words.
“We will continue to work in partnership with organisations including Bond, NCVO, CAF, NAVCA, the Small Charities Coalition and more to challenge this decision.”