Queen's Speech 2014: ACEVO Comment and Briefing

Published: Wednesday 4 June 2014 - 12:00

ACEVO's summary of the Queen's Speech at the State Opening of Parliament, 4 June 2014

The morning of 4 June saw the final Queen’s Speech before the forthcoming general election in 2015, laying out the government’s legislative programme for the remainder of the parliament. Key themes included infrastructure development, deregulation, and a continued emphasis on deficit reduction.

In addition, the government’s legislative plans include a new Protection of Charities Bill (England and Wales), which aims to strengthen the powers of the Charity Commission following a recent consultation. ACEVO will monitor the development of this bill closely in order to ensure that any additional powers for the Commission are effective, necessary and proportionate. ACEVO members will be kept up-to-date on any developments.

The government will also introduce a ‘Social Action, Responsibility and Heroism Bill’. This aims to ensure that acts carried out ‘heroically, responsibly, or for the benefit of others’ are taken into account by courts, in cases where people are sued for negligence when they have been acting for the benefit of society. This is likely to include certain situations where people are acting on behalf of a voluntary organisation. ACEVO will follow this bill closely and ensure that members are aware of any implications for charities and their volunteers.

Commenting on the whole of the Queen’s Speech, Sir Stephen Bubb, Chief Executive of ACEVO said:

“The Coalition Government’s legislative programme for its final year has slim pickings for charities and their beneficiaries. The disappointing lack of any focus on public service reform is a sad reminder that this agenda has been unceremoniously dropped. Inevitably, service users will pay the price for the government’s failure to fulfil its early promises to transform public service delivery. Further efforts to cut welfare spending will also hit the most vulnerable in society the hardest.”

Commenting on the Government’s proposed Protection of Charities (England & Wales) Bill, Sir Stephen Bubb, Chief Executive of ACEVO said:

“We support the Charity Commission having the powers it needs to crack down on cases of abuse and malpractice. However, any extension of its powers must be proportionate, and must not threaten the independence of the voluntary sector. It’s also essential that the Commission’s new powers are accompanied by new funding, otherwise its already scarce resources will be stretched even further. We will work closely with the Cabinet Office to ensure that this Bill meets the needs of both the Commission and the third sector as a whole”

Commenting on the Government’s proposed support for small business, Asheem Singh, Director of Public Policy at ACEVO said:

“The Government recognises the need to support small businesses, yet it continues to neglect the large and indispensable role that charities have to play in our economic recovery. Charities, social enterprises and community groups are central to the development of a more resilient economy and society. Issues such as access to sustainable funding are just as important to charities as to small businesses – the Government must not make the mistake of excluding the voluntary sector from its plans once again.”

ACEVO's full summary of the speech is available below: