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Policy round-up: March 2024

In case you missed it, this month’s policy roundup aims to give you a taste into what the policy and influencing team has been up to over the last month.

By Shareen Patel, policy and influencing officer at ACEVO.

ACEVO responds to chancellor’s spring budget

ACEVO CEO, Jane Ide has commented on the Chancellor’s Budget saying, “the extension of the Household Support Fund by a limited six months falls far short of what many in our sector have advocated for and will mean more calls on our sector to provide much needed support. The cuts to National Insurance were widely trailed, which may help some workers in the short term; but the underlying pressures on public services, and in particular funding for local authorities, remain firmly unaddressed. Services for those who are most disadvantaged, in particular, will continue to be a major concern for our sector.”.

ACEVO CEO comments on the closure of the Inter Faith Network

ACEVO CEO, Jane Ide commented on the now confirmed closure of the Inter Faith Network, saying, “to hear the news of yet another infrastructure body on the verge of closure due to a lack of funding is deeply concerning, and particularly so when the cause that the Inter Faith Network has served for so many years is clearly more needed than ever. […] Funders of all types have the right to make decisions about where they put their funding and the conditions they might attach. But those conditions must be clear and transparent from the start and funding commitments once made should be honoured, other than in the light of specific and immediate concerns arising from appropriate due diligence. This should be particularly so in relation to government or other public sector funding, and equally so where those conditions relate to the governance and leadership of grantee organisations, regardless of the source of funding. Without transparency there can be no debate around the reasoning behind the conditions attached, nor can trustee boards make effective decisions about the governance risks attached to specific funding applications.”

Election preparation: campaigning and new practical guidance from ACEVO and NCVO

NCVO and ACEVO have jointly published practical guidance for campaigning in the lead up to an election. We continue to advocate for the need for any new government to uphold the right of civil society to campaign. ACEVO recently held a webinar with Sam Jackson, Assistant Director of Policy at the Charity Commission on campaigning. If you missed it, you can download the shared slides here.

Manifesto

We’ve concluded our engagement events on the discussion paper for our joint manifesto with NCVO. We’re now in the midst of collating and finalising a manifesto, with plans to launch and share in May. Thank you for your involvement and input.

Charity Commission: new CEO, five year strategy and donation guidance

ACEVO welcomed the announcement of the new CEO of the Charity Commission, David Holdsworth, who will take up the position in July 2024. CEO, Jane Ide praised his experience and referred to Holdsworth as a “damned good regulator” which is “really important to the success and sustainability of our sector”.

The Charity Commission has launched its five-year strategy. The Commission has said its ambition is to be “fair, balanced, and independent” so that any charity can thrive. The strategy sets out what it wants to achieve and where it wants to get to in the next five years. In the recent webinar with the Commission, it was said that one of the key messages from the Commission’s Chair during the launch of the strategy was the value of campaigning.

New guidance has now been published to help charities when deciding whether to accept, refuse or return a donation. It makes clear that trustees should start from a position of accepting a donation but there may be circumstances in which they decide to refuse or return it. The guidance is designed to help trustees have informed discussions when faced with the choice. We will be publishing a member briefing on this guidance in due course.

Charities Act 2022 provisions

The latest set of changes being introduced by the Charities Act 2022 came into force yesterday.This introduces a new power which makes it easier for unincorporated charities to change their governing document, as well as new rules which now apply to gifts that are left to charities that have merged. Certain additional changes, which had previously been delayed, have come into force, including those that apply to charity-to-charity land disposals. Read the full list of changes.

Climate Action Fund

The National Lottery Community Fund has opened the Climate Action Fund, to support communities across the UK to take action on climate change. From Wednesday 27 March you can apply for funding. Projects that reach more people by either linking climate action to the everyday lives and interests of local communities and that influence communities at a regional or national level will be funded. For more details on the criteria and how to apply, check out the National Lottery website.

The policy and influencing team is here to help! Don’t hesitate to get in touch with me at shareen.patel@acevo.org.uk.

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