General Election 2017: Conservative Manifesto Charity Analysis

May 19, 2017 at 14:35

CFG will be analysing all the manifestos to understand what impact they may have on the operating environment for charities. Here is our third and final analysis, of the Conservative Manifesto. 

Charity Sector Analysis

 

The Conservative Party Manifesto will push back the date at which the deficit is cleared by several years, which should in theory give a shallower profile to cuts in public spending and give charities more time to adapt. However, as with other parties, there will be further increases in spending areas such as Health and Education which may trickle down to charities working in these sectors.

On tax, the level of VAT will be kept the same although there is no comment on whether that will mean changes to special rates or exemptions. Charities will need to be cautious that government does not expand its income by scrapping valuable tax reliefs. Business rates reform is again on the agenda, and charities need to monitor developments in this space carefully given the importance of business rate relief which is worth over £1.5bn to charities every year.

A number of new “funds” are going to be created by government in culture, regional development and UK-wide projects. It is important that the work of charities is included in such funding, particularly if these are likely to be funded by the use of monies which currently go to the European Union.

Two areas of low-key focus, but potentially important for charities are on countering extremism and data protection. Firstly, on the data protection side, a new Data Use and Ethics Commission could have an impact on charities data collecting which has already been under significant attention from the ICO and media. Charities must be represented on the Commission, on an operational level as well as in terms of their expertise on protecting vulnerable people. Secondly, there is a reference to civil society being part of the Commission on Countering Extremism. We know that the regulator and government have expressed concerns in the past about charities being infiltrated by extremists. It is important that this Commission looks at the positive work that charities do, not just the potential risks.

Key measures at a glance

Tax & Economy

  • Balanced budget by 2025
  • Future Britain Fund – potentially from Shale Gas Wealth funds and Dormant Assets
  • Level of VAT will not be increased but no commitment on special rates
  • Reform of business rates again – more frequent valuations and potentially self-assessment
  • Simplify the tax system
  • Free trade deal with EU the aim
  • Safeguard the Post Office and use Post Office to expand banking services in rural areas

Regulation & employment

  • Red tape challenge will continue and One in-one out rule
  • Continue increasing National Living Wage to 60% of median wage by 2020 – and then by median wage increases ongoing
  • More proactive approach to tackling abuse of trusts
  • Pension reforms to protect scheme members and punish companies that wilfully underfund pensions
  • Visa system to be designed by Migration Advisory Committee but double Immigration Skills Charge

Public services

  • Increasing procurement spend with SMEs – not sure if charities are included
  • New cultural development fund to turn around communities
  • UK Shared Prosperity Fund to help reduce inequalities in regions
  • Greater control for local authorities over the money they raise – no specific reference on business rates.
  • Government departments and agencies are going to be relocated to be spread over the country

International development and human rights

  • British Council placed on a ‘secure footing’
  • 0.7% maintained
  • Charities to help to support asylum seekers when they arrive in communities
  • Review of the implementation of the Modern Slavery Act

Constitution

  • Boundary review and 600 seats target maintained
  • First past the post for PCCs and Mayoral elections

Justice

  • New national community sentencing framework and £1bn to invest in prisons

Education & Skills

  • Hundred new free schools a year
  • Universities that want to charge maximum fees will also have to set up free schools
  • Apprenticeships Levy funds will be able to be used to fund retraining

Welfare and pensions

  • No plans for radical welfare reform
  • Reduce homelessness by half
  • “Breathing space” regime for debt to give people six weeks from further interest rises and get legal protection
  • Double lock for pensions

Immigration

  • Immigration reduced to the tens of thousands – but no time frame
  • More help to integrate those in ‘isolated communities’
  • Commission on Countering Extremism which will consider how civil society, public sector and other sectors can help to combat extremism
  • Large employers to publish pay gap information on ethnic minorities

Health & Social Care

  • £1bn more for mental health
  • Commitment to new Mental Health Act
  • Social care cap of £100,000 introduced with people having to contribute from their estate after death for residential care
  • £8bn for the NHS in real terms
  • Ensure that EU nationals working in the NHS can stay
  • Review of the internal NHS market before 2017/18

Data protection

  • Review of data to give people a right to be forgotten
  • Data Use and Ethics Commission to be created on the use of data
  • Open data on the performance of public services so that people can compare