Parliamentary candidates have been urged to commit to recognising the contribution the UK's charity shops make to the economy, society, and environment.
The Charity Retail Association has produced the first ever Manifesto for Charity Shops, and sent it to the manifesto writers for each of the main political parties.
The association highlights that charity retail is the biggest source of volunteer opportunities in the UK, and said that charity retail kept 330,000 tonnes of textiles out of landfill reducing carbon emissions by nearly seven million tonnes.
The manifesto's 10 key policy asks are that the next government should:
1. Clearly recognise the vital social value that the charity retail sector generates for communities, economies and the environment across the UK,
2. Introduce a fairer and more cost-effective system of 100 per cent business rate relief for all charity shops
3. Ensure that all charity shops are eligible for both rate relief and all support schemes in place to assist small shops with business rate support,
4. Dedicate itself to creating a volunteering revolution with every public sector employer giving its employees time off to volunteer,
5. Give official recognition to The Charity Retail Association’s volunteering campaign and offer non-financial support by encouraging public sector employees to participate,
6. Promote the benefits of volunteering in charity shops to young people and the unemployed, particularly through Job Centre Plus,
7. Assist charity shops in generating stock by allowing them to collect house-to-house at short notice,
8. Legislate for much greater transparency in the clothing collections market, allowing people to make informed choices about the destination of their donations,
9. Emphasise to all councils that waste from unsaleable donations is household waste and should be accepted at refuse sites free of charge,
10. Incentivise partnerships between charities and local authorities to enable collection from household recycling centres.
Charity Retail Association chief executive Robin Osterley said charity shops are a unique and cherished British institution, and it is important their future is debated as part of the election campaign.
“The ten asks in our manifesto provide each of the political parties with some clear ideas of how they can support a sector which does so much for our country’s society, community and environment. Our members will watch with interest to see which ideas each of the parties decide to take forward.”
Access the full manifesto here.