Civil society strategy needs 'biggest shake-up' since Victorian age, says CFG

The government’s new civil society strategy needs to incorporate “the biggest shake-up of charity tax since the Victorian age”, Charity Finance Group has said.

In a written submission to the Office for Civil Society, CFG called on the government to ensure its new civil society strategy is updated to ensure many of the structures that support charities, particularly around tax, are fit for the 21st Century.

At present, many structures that have been put in place to support charities date back to the Victorian era, the group said.

CFG urged the government to ignore traditional ‘micro-level’ initiatives and piecemeal funding programmes, and instead fundamentally "shake-up" the support for charities across tax, regulation, commissioning/procurement and skills and capacity building.

Additionally it called for the government to “trust charities” and recognise that if it supports a growing charity sector, it will see progress across the key areas noted in the engagement document: people, place and partnerships.

The submission also cautions the government against doing this strategy “on the cheap”, noting the tens of billions of pounds, which have been given to grow business over recent years.

"It is vital that any strategy is appropriately resourced and civil society is not just left with warm words," CFG added.

“The government has said that it wants to have an ambitious strategy to support civil society and this is good news. Many of the structures that support charities, particularly around tax, date back to the Victorian area,” CFG director of policy and engagement, Andrew O’Brien said.

“This Civil Society strategy is an opportunity to update these structures and principles for the 21st Century so that we can create a growing charity sector, which can meet the social and economic challenges our country faces.

“This has to be backed up with government investment, just like the Industrial Strategy has been. Business would not accept a strategy without investment, so why should civil society?

“If the government is prepared to use this Civil Society Strategy to comprehensively reform the support for charities, it could leave a positive legacy for decades to come – just like our Victorian predecessors.”

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