Charity sector leaders criticise “disappointing and neglectful” Spring Budget

Written by Joe Lepper

Women’s charities are to benefit from a Spring Budget that has come under fire for ignoring the wider voluntary sector.

Chancellor Philip Hammond announced that women’s charities would receive £12m from the Tampon Tax Fund, with a full list of recipients to be published later this month.

In addition, he pledged an additional £20m over the parliament to support organisations working specifically to combat domestic violence.

But in spite of these windfalls, charity leaders have criticised the Budget’s lack of focus on the sector, with ACEVO describing it as “disappointing and neglectful”.

AVECO chief executive Vicky Browning said: “The government does not seem to fully understand the depth and breadth of the skill and expertise which exist in civil society organisations. Skill which can help us reach our mutual goals.

“It is a disappointing budget which has ignored the opportunity to provide tangible evidence of the commitment to a comprehensively shared society.”

NCVO charity finance policy lead Michael Birtwistle’s Budget blog, also noted its “little direct focus on charities”.

But he suggests this could be positive for the sector, as it leaves the door open to a more strategic focus on charity policy and funding at a later date.

He said: “In a relatively light budget so closely focused on long term productivity, it is possibly a step forward that it was not peppered with a smattering of short term funding pots for the sector – a more strategic approach to funding is needed.

“The failure of further taxes to materialise that might have affected the sector, such as another rise in insurance premium tax is also to be welcomed.”

Social Enterprise UK said it was disappointed Hammond did not make any announcements regarding social investment and other innovative ways to fund the social economy.

A spokesperson said: “We’ve got used to seeing no references to social enterprise in the Budget. But to see no mention of social investment, of even inclusive business or shared society, of mutuals and barely a mention of charities is a worrying sign that the government may have completely lost sight of the value of the social economy.”

Hammond also announced a further £2bn for social care over the next three years as well as a review of social care funding, in the form of a green paper to be published later this year.

Birtwistle urges care sector charities to make sure their “voices are heard in the consultation process”.

Helen Elliott, partner at charity auditing and accountancy firm Sayer Vincent, added that this extra money for social care “is very good news for the many charities and other social care providers currently struggling to make ends meet whilst still providing the services needed”.

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