The Government’s dangerous contempt and disregard for charities and voluntary organisations

1st June, 2012 9:54 am

The Government’s attitude towards the voluntary and community sector (VCS) has been exposed for what it really is by the ongoing chaos of the last several weeks. Their disastrous Budget introduced the infamous ‘charity tax’ and revealed that the Chancellor did not consider it necessary to speak to even his own Cabinet Office team in advance of the decision, let alone consult with the sector itself.

It is clear that the gap between the Government’s ‘Big Society’ rhetoric and the harsh reality of their policies is widening. Time and time again we see new evidence that the Government’s policies are hitting the sector hard and resulting in instability and uncertainty.

A report published this week by New Philanthropy Capital has revealed that over two thirds of charities are being forced to cut frontline services at a time when many of these services are seeing increased demand. On top of this, almost three quarters of charities are having to make staff redundant, adding to the already soaring number of people out of work as a result of this Government’s policies.

These shocking figures reflect the issues and concerns raised with me on my visits to VCS organisations; the same issues are highlighted again and again with little sign the Government is even listening, let alone taking action desperately needed.

VCS organisations are showing brilliant and remarkable innovation in the face of such hostility from the Tory-led Government but this week’s evidence, and the evidence building from numerous additional reports, suggests that this will not be enough to prevent serious long term damage to the sector as a result of the Government’s actions.

The Government’s failure to support the sector in this year’s Budget has proved they are not serious about working with charities and voluntary organisations, or the millions of people they represent. The Budget was a lost opportunity to take real action and the failure to make the most of the Queen’s Speech just two months later simply confirmed the Government’s disinterest in the VCS.

Yet instead we saw George Osborne announce a ‘charity tax’; a decision that was not only at odds with the stated core values of his party’s increasingly neglected ‘Big Society’ project, but one that demonstrated a complete disregard for the experience and expertise of the sector itself.

A full 10 weeks after the Budget announcement the Government have been forced to announce an embarrassing u-turn on this issue, a decision that brings their u-turn tally to three this week alone.

Let’s be clear, charities need all the support they can get but the Government’s latest u-turn will not reverse the damage they have already inflicted on one of the most valuable sectors in our society.

While we see the ‘Big Society’ agenda within the Coalition overruled and undermined time and time again by the Coalition’s big hitters, it appears that even the Chancellor cannot ignore the vociferous opposition from the VCS and the considerable dissent from his party’s own MPs.

If David Cameron and George Osborne thought through their unfair policies in the first place, this embarrassing u-turn would not have been necessary. Instead they have shown just how out of touch and incompetent they really are.

In a desperate attempt to distract attention from the ‘charity tax’ fiasco and the mounting evidence detailing the devastating true impact of government cuts on charities, the Government has increasingly focused on the role it sees charities and voluntary organisations playing in the delivery of public services.  But the procurement process is not fit for purpose and yet again it is clear the concerns of the VCS have not been heard, leaving the Government dangerously out of touch.

There needs to be urgent action taken to address the hidden crisis that is the Tory-led Government’s commissioning process. Over 90 per cent of charities said they now face a riskier future in the current commissioning environment; an absolutely shocking figure. Many charities are uneasy about payment by results contracts and the shift away from grant based funding is something that needs to be urgently addressed if we are to achieve the best possible services.

The Government’s contempt and disregard for charities and voluntary organisations is not just arrogant and incompetent, it is dangerous. I am in absolutely no doubt that the people who are losing out from the Government’s systematic destruction of support for the community and voluntary sector are the service users themselves, often the most vulnerable in our society.

Jon Trickett is the shadow secretary of state for the Cabinet Office

Latest

  • Comment Featured Tories’ turmoil should ring snap election alarm bells

    Tories’ turmoil should ring snap election alarm bells

    As most party members know all too well, Labour will face its first major electoral test under Jeremy Corbyn this May. Crucial as these polls are for all of us, particularly our candidates, we cannot blithely assume that they will be the only contest that we will face this year. We need to be on a general election war footing. In June, decades of Tory infighting are set to reach a crescendo with the referendum on membership of the European […]

    Read more →
  • News “We need answers which are both radical and credible” – full text of Jon Ashworth’s Future of the Centre Left speech

    “We need answers which are both radical and credible” – full text of Jon Ashworth’s Future of the Centre Left speech

    This is the full text of the speech given by Shadow Cabinet member Jon Ashworth to Progress’ The Future of Labour’s Centre Left event on Tuesday. Thank you for inviting me to speak – my first time at a Progress event. We meet tonight after two general election defeats. So tonight’s discussion about the future of the centre left is timely. Beyond the confines of our party or the borders of our country, there are forces driving huge waves of change […]

    Read more →
  • Local Government News Jeremy Corbyn pledges to give councils “freedom to innovate”

    Jeremy Corbyn pledges to give councils “freedom to innovate”

    Labour will send out a message during this May’s local election campaign that the party will stand up to “the onslaught of Tory cuts”, Jeremy Corbyn said today. In a speech to the Labour Local Government Conference this afternoon, Corbyn also pledged to allow councils “greater freedoms to innovate on a larger scale” in order to find solutions to problems caused by government spending cuts. The Labour leader outlined what kind of campaign the party would be running over the coming months, […]

    Read more →
  • Featured News Scotland Seats and Selections Scottish Labour announce list candidates for May’s election

    Scottish Labour announce list candidates for May’s election

    Scottish Labour have announced their list candidates rankings for May’s Holyrood elections. With the election taking place through Additional Member System (AMS), there are two types of candidate, constituency and list. Given current polling, and the near wipeout in last year’s general election, it is expected that the vast majority, if not all, of Labour’s MSPs come May will be elected via the the lists. The candidate shortlist was announced in December, and was the largest ever for the party […]

    Read more →
  • Featured News John McDonnell tops LabourList Shadow Cabinet rankings

    John McDonnell tops LabourList Shadow Cabinet rankings

    Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell has topped this week’s rankings of Shadow Cabinet members, as judged by LabourList readers. It comes after a fortnight in which McDonnell has been prominent in the news attacking George Osborne over the Google tax deal. It is the first time he has topped LabourList’s Shadow Cabinet rankings – although he has always scored highly, and was voted by readers as their favourite frontbencher of 2015. As one of Jeremy Corbyn’s closest political allies, his popularity shows […]

    Read more →
Share with your friends










Submit