Manifesto Watch 2015: Conservatives

April 14, 2015 at 13:01

CFG’s analysis of the party manifestos continues with the Conservative Party which unveiled its manifesto today.

Strong Leadership, A Clear Economic Plan, A Brighter, More Secure Future – The Conservative Party Manifesto 2015

Summary of policies affecting charities:

Sector-wide

  • National Minimum Wage up to £8 an hour by 2020
  • No VAT or National Insurance increases
  • Workplace entitlement to volunteering leave for 3 days a year with pay for those working in large companies or public sector
  • Major review of business rates so that from 2017 they will reflect our ‘modern economy’
  • Support volunteering through National Citizen Service and Step Up to Serve

Local government/Public Services

  • Conservatives to ‘harness the talent and energy’ of charities in delivering public services
  • Scale up Payment by Results and Social Impact Bonds
  • More transparency in public services
  • Reduce ring fencing of local authority budgets
  • Enable local authorities to keep more of their business rate income
  • Encourage more voluntary integration of local authority services and administration

Health & Social Care

  • Increase transparency for patients of independent providers of health services
  • Work with charities to deliver new cancer strategy

Education & Young People

  • Replace Jobseekers Allowance 18-21 with a Youth Allowance requiring an apprenticeship, traineeship or ‘daily community work’

Arts

  • Keep free access to museums and galleries

International development

  • Keep 0.7% aid commitment
  • Double size of Aid Match scheme

Analysis for charities

The Conservative Party Manifesto has a number of initiatives that could affect the sector, and has a section on ‘The Big Society’ (p.46) which was launched at the 2010 General Election.

On an operational level, increases to the National Minimum Wage would necessitate the need for charities to plan ahead for higher staffing costs.

On tax, the major area for charities continues to be the review of business rates which is currently underway. Business rate relief is worth £1.5bn to the sector and any reform could have a significant impact on the sector’s finances if relief for charities is not maintained. Enabling local authorities to keep more of their business rate income could also have an impact on charitable rate relief, with early indications from the Business Rate Retention Scheme pointing to more local authorities withdrawing or withholding discretionary rate relief under the new rules.

In public services, there is a positive mention of the role of charities in delivering and a promise to upscale Social Impact Bonds and Payment by Results. In the case of Payment by Results there has been a number of concerns raised by charities, but no policies or promises of reform or view have been outlined. There is also a focus on increasing transparency which could create significant additional compliance costs for charities as well as a commitment to open up more data which could involve costs in collection.

Volunteering will be supporting through existing policies and a new Youth Allowance will give young people a range of options for eligibility including daily community work which is likely to involve delivery through charities in some cases.

Charity Finance Group has released a briefing for charity members on its priorities for the next government which you can read here.