General Election 2017: Liberal Democrats Manifesto Charity Analysis

May 19, 2017 at 14:15

CFG will be analysing all the manifestos to understand what impact they may have on the operating environment for charities. Here is our second analysis, of the Liberal Democrats Manifesto. 

Charity Sector Analysis

 

The Liberal Democrat manifesto does contain some specific references for charities including the use of social investment to support the development of the sector. Social investment has been a mixed bag for charities so far and this would be a continuation of Coalition (and current government) policy.  It is not stated whether this would see more funding put into institutions such as Big Society Capital and Access Foundation or whether it would be a continuation of existing funding arrangements. CFG would recommend that the government does more to build the financial capacity of organisations so that they are in a position to develop business plans and ideas which can be investment ready.

The Liberal Democrats will be increasing direct taxes to fund public services which may have a knock-on impact on disposable income, and therefore, disposable income for people to donate and spend with charities. Reform of the National Insurance system, if it leads to higher contributions from employers, could also have an impact on the cost of charities delivering public services.  Charities would need to monitor any changes carefully.

There would be a significant increase in public service spending in relation to current plans and this may help charities working in challenging public service markets, particularly health and social care. The commitment to improve use of the Social Value Act may also help charities operating in these fields.  There would also be a continuation of free access to museums and galleries.

The Liberal Democrats would also review the business rates system which could have an impact on charitable reliefs – charities will need to make sure that their voice is heard on this issue. Employers would also likely see a strengthening of employee rights which could increase the costs of doing business, particularly those that rely on workers on zero-hours or fixed term contracts.

There would be significant changes to the constitution and to civil rights, which could impact on charities operating in these sectors.

Key measures at a glance

Brexit

  • 2nd Referendum on contents of Brexit deal
  • Guarantee rights of EU citizens
  • Single market and customs union access
  • Freedom of movement
  • Support Erasmus scheme
  • Protecting social rights

NHS

  • An immediate 1p rise on the basic, higher and additional rates of Income Tax to raise £6 billion additional revenue, which would be ringfenced to be spent only on NHS and social care services.
  • Potentially longer term reform to National Insurance system to pay for health and care.
  • End of public sector pay freeze
  • Transforming mental health care with waiting time standards to match those in physical health care.

Education

  • Investing nearly £7 billion extra in our children’s education – increasing school budgets and the Pupil Premium to protect against rising costs and pupil numbers, and introducing a fairer national funding formula.
  • Investing in high-quality early years education, tripling the Early Years Pupil Premium to £1,000.
  • Opposing any new selective schools and giving local authorities proper democratic control over admissions and new schools.
  • Ensure that all universities work to widen participation across the sector, prioritising their work with students in schools and colleges, and require every university to be transparent about selection criteria.
  • Fight to retain access to Horizon 2020 and Marie Sklodowska-Curie actions funding.
  • Aim to double the number of businesses which hire apprentices, including by extending apprenticeships to new sectors of our economy such as creative and digital industries

Economy

  • Eliminating the deficit on day-to-day spending by 2020 to control the national debt, and then borrowing only to invest.
  • Additional funding to bring more private investment into renewable energy.
  • £5 billion of initial capital for a new British Housing and Infrastructure Development Bank, using public money to attract private investment for these priorities
  • A National Wellbeing Strategy covering all aspects of government policy, including health, housing and the environment
  • Lift the borrowing cap on local authorities and increase the borrowing capacity of housing associations so that they can build council and social housing.

Funding, public procurement and social investment

  • Support social investment, ensuring charities and social enterprises can access the support and finance they need to strengthen their governance and deliver innovative, sustainable solutions to challenges in their communities.
  • Enable central and local government to prioritise employee-owned and community-benefit companies in awarding procurement contracts by strengthening the Social Value Act.
  • Protect sports and arts funding via the National Lottery
  • Maintain free access to national museums and galleries.

Tax

  • Aim in the long term, and as resources allow, to raise the employee national insurance threshold to the Income Tax threshold, while protecting low earners’ ability to accrue pension and benefit entitlements
  • Conduct a full-scale review into the burden of taxation and spending between generations to ensure that government policy promotes fairness between generations
  • Review Business Rates to reduce burdens on small firms, and make them the priority for any future business tax cuts.
  • Lead international action to ensure global companies pay fair taxes in the developing countries in which they operate, including tightening anti-tax haven rules and requiring large companies to publish their tax payments and profits for each country in which they operate.

Regulation

  • Encourage the creation and widespread adoption of a ‘good employer’ kitemark covering areas such as paying a living wage, avoiding unpaid internships and using name-blind recruitment to make it easier for customers and investors to exercise choice and influence.
  •  Establish an independent review to consult on how to set a genuine living wage across all sectors. We will pay this living wage in all central government departments and their agencies, and encourage other public-sector employers to do likewise.
  • Extend transparency requirements on larger employers to include publishing the number of people paid less than the living wage and the ratio between top and median pay.
  • Modernise employment rights to make them fit for the age of the ‘gig’ economy, looking to build on the forthcoming Taylor report.
  • Stamp out abuse of zero-hours contracts. We will create a formal right to request a fixed contract and consult on introducing a right to make regular patterns of work contractual after a period of time.
  • Strengthen enforcement of employment rights, including by bringing together relevant enforcement agencies and scrapping employment tribunal fees.

Environment

  • Building on the success of our plastic bag charge, introduce a 5p charge on disposable coffee cups to reduce waste – could this be used to fund charities like the plastic bag charge?

Welfare

  • Scrap the ‘bedroom tax’, while seeking to achieve the aim of making best use of the housing supply through incentivising local authorities to help tenants ‘downsize’.
  • Scrap the discredited Work Capability Assessment and replace it with a new system, run by local authorities according to national rules, including a ‘real world’ test that is based on the local labour market.
  • Withdraw eligibility for the Winter Fuel Payment from pensioners who pay tax at the higher rate (40%). We will retain the free bus pass for all pensioners.
  • Ensure that those using food banks are aware of their rights and how they can access hardship payments where relevant

Civil Rights & Policing

  • Extend the Equality Act to all large companies with more than 250 employees, requiring them to monitor and publish data on gender, BAME, and LGBT+ employment levels and pay gaps.
  • Develop a government-wide plan to tackle BAME inequalities, and review the Equality and Human Rights Commission to determine whether it is effectively fulfilling its role and whether its funding is adequate.
  • End the ministerial veto on release of information under the Freedom of Information Act, and take steps to reduce the proportion of FOI requests where information is withheld by government department
  • Introduce a digital bill of rights that protects people’s powers over their own information, supports individuals over large corporations, and preserves the neutrality of the internet.
  • Protect our system of judicial review from further attack, retaining government accountability for unlawful action, and offer a staunch defence of our judiciary and the rule of law.
  • Scrap the flawed Prevent strategy and replace it with a scheme that prioritises community engagement and supports communities in developing their own approach to tackling the dangers of violent extremism
  • End imprisonment for possession of illegal drugs for personal use, diverting those arrested for possession of drugs for personal use into treatment and education (adopting a health-based approach), or imposing civil penalties.
  • Establish a centrally funded Migration Impact Fund to help local communities to adjust to new migration and meet unexpected pressures on public services and housing.

International Development

  • Work with our international partners to address the ongoing refugee crisis, which has seen more people displaced across the world than ever before.
  • Maintain our commitment to spend 0.7% of UK gross national income on 86 Liberal Democrat Manifesto 2017 overseas development assistance, in line with the OECD definition, which we legislated for in the last parliament.
  • Develop a global education strategy to address the urgent funding crisis causing 263 million children to miss out on schooling.

Constitution

  • Establish a UK constitutional convention, made up of representatives of the political parties, academia, civic society and members of the public, tasked with producing a full, codified constitution for the UK, to report within two years.
  • Strengthen and expand the lobbying register and prohibit MPs from accepting paid lobbying work.
  • Introduce ‘devolution on demand’, enabling even greater devolution of powers from Westminster to councils or groups of councils working together – for example to a Cornish Assembly or a Yorkshire Parliament.
  • Address the imbalance by immediately ensuring that the Barnett floor is set at a level that reflects the need for Wales to be funded fairly, and seek over a parliament to increase the Welsh block grant to an equitable level.