Manifesto Watch 2015: Green Party

April 14, 2015 at 11:27

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

For the Common Good – The Green Party Manifesto 2015

Summary of policies affecting charities:

Sector-wide

  • Green Party values “the contribution made by civil society organisations
  • National Minimum Wage up to £10 an hour by 2020
  • 10:1 pay ratios between highest and lower paid staff
  • Encourage divestment of fossil fuels and create greener alternatives
  • Phase in 35 hour week
  • End exploitative zero hour contracts
  • Support social enterprise
  • Support co-operatives through a co-op development fund
  • Reducing NI for employers to 8% over the long term
  • Repeal the Lobbying Act
  • Tax Dodging Bill to tackle tax gap and have a general anti-avoidance principle
  • Replace Business Rates with a Land Value Tax
  • Make large organisations consider social and environmental impact

Financial inclusion

  • £2bn investment in network of community banks

Local government/Public Services

  • Public Service Users Bill to bring back services to public ownership
  • £10bn increase in LA budgets and ensure that local authority grants can pay for all statutory services
  • Enable local authorities to favour local organisations through procurement system

Health & Social Care

  • An end to privatisation of the NHS – but with the role of non-for-profits in service delivery retained
  • End to commercial confidentiality in delivering of NHS contracts
  • Increasing transparency
  • Work with the third sector to champion patient care

Education & Young People

  • End of charitable status for private schools
  • Phase out public funding for schools run by religious organisations

Policing/Criminal Justice

  • Abolishing Police and Crime Commissioners
  • Consistent long term funding for a national network of Rape Crisis Centres up to £100m over the next Parliament

International Aid

  • Increase Overseas Aid Budget from 0.7% to 1% of GD

Political/Constitutional

  • A Constitutional Convention involving citizen participation to decide future governance of the UK

Analysis for charities

The Green Party Manifesto has a number of radical proposals which would significantly alter the operating environment for charities.

Charities would need to plan for higher staffing costs through increases in the National Minimum Wage and the phased introduction of a 35 hour week. However, these might be balanced out by a reduction in the National Insurance bill for employers – although no time period is given for this change. Pay Ratios would also create a challenge for finance professionals to identify ratios and then put in place proposals to meet the ratios.

The repeal of business rates with a Land Value Tax could have a significant impact on charities, particularly those that have received large land endowments. It is also not clear whether charities would be exempt from the Land Value Tax, as charities currently receive mandatory relief on business rates (with 20% discretionary rate relief).

A Tax Dodging Bill and general anti-avoidance principle would be a continuation of the approach under this government of tightening up tax rules, however, charities would need to make sure that they are not indirectly caught up by changes to the rules.

On public services, the Green Manifesto is focused on public funding, public provision and democratic accountability. Although there is criticism of private providers, non-for-profits are mentioned positively throughout meaning that charities would be unlikely to be prevented from delivery. There is also a focus on supporting local organisations to receive local authority contracts. The Green Manifesto further outlines significant increases in public spending, mostly (but not entirely) paid for by new wealth taxes. The abolition of Police and Crime Commissioners would also mean that charities would have to adapt to a changing structure, the outsourcing of rehabilitation services would also be reversed which could impact charities involved in delivery.

Charities are a large part of the delivery of overseas aid, the Green Party’s increase from 0.7% to 1% of GDP could also have a significant impact on charities in the international development sector.

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