Charity leaders call for ‘fundamental reassessment’ of govt’s relationship with sector

Charity leaders have written to Civil Society Minister Tracey Crouch, calling for a strategy that “fundamentally reassesses” how the government works with the sector.

In a letter written to Tracey Crouch, civil society leaders such as Charity Finance Group, Children England, Directory of Social Change, the Institute of Fundraising and ACEVO, said the government must ensure its new strategy allows for its relationship with the sector to “move beyond transactional relationships”.

Instead, the coalition argued the relationship must build understanding, trust and respect and inform better decision-making and to ensure people can access the support they need.

The letter went on to describe how this should be built on reform in two key areas: ongoing sector engagement and the strategic use of funds.

Commenting on the publication of the letter Lloyds Bank Foundation chief executive, Paul Streets said: “Civil Society is under real pressure but perhaps has never been more needed. We have warmly welcomed the government’s consultation on a strategy to support civil society and it’s important that it results in real change and action.

“That is why we have come together as 14 organisations that fund, represent and support 1000s of charities, to urge ministers to deliver a strategy that commits to engaging with charities right across government, and to using and reforming funding to better support charities to be sustainable, grow and thrive.”

The signatories are as follows: Lloyds Bank Foundation for England & Wales, Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations, Association of Charitable Foundations, Bond, Charity Finance Group, Children England, Clinks, Directory of Social Change, Institute of Fundraising, Locality, NAVCA, New Philanthropy Capital, Small Charities Coalition, and 360 Giving.

Bond, another of the main signatories, said in a statement that civil society “must be included in decision making processes, because it is the only way to ensure people an communities are genuinely at the heart of government policies”.

“The civil society strategy must create a supportive regulatory and political environment for civil society, which protects and promotes their independence and voice, recognises and respects their insights and expertise, and supports their participation in the decision-making process,” Bond head of policy and campaigns, Claire Godfrey said.

“Unjust and ill-thought through laws and regulations, such as the Lobbying Act and anti-advocacy clauses, mean civil society is increasingly closed out of public debate and policy making. We have already seen how policies and legislation can have a detrimental impact when they are created without participation from civil society.”

“The government has said that it recognises the right of charities to campaign and values the benefits it has for our society and communities. But words are not enough unless they are followed by action. Now is the time for action; it is time to reform the Lobbying Act and it is time to stop inserting anti-advocacy clauses into government grant agreements.”

You can read the full letter here.

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