“Charities are the lifeblood of society” says Committee

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28 March, 2017
The House of Lords Select Committee on Charities has published its report, 'Stronger Charities for a Stronger Society', in which the Committee praises the important role that charities play in our society. 
The report stresses that if the sustainability of charities is to be maintained, it is essential that their contribution is recognised by the Government, by the regulator and by their beneficiaries. Charities too must be certain that their governance is strong enough to enable them to face a challenging future with confidence.
Chairman of the Committee, Baroness Pitkeathley, said:
"Charities are the lifeblood of society. They play a fundamental role in our civil life and do so despite facing a multitude of challenges. Yet for them to continue to flourish, it is clear that they must be supported and promoted.
"We found that charities lead the way with innovation, but that this is at risk of being stifled by the 'contract culture'. And while advocacy is a sign of a healthy democracy, and is a central part of charities' role, this role has been threatened by Government.  
"We hope that charities will be encouraged by this report; that the Government will respect their role; and that in addition it will value the connections charities have with all sections of society, and encourage the vital scrutiny they provide." 
Recommendations included in the report:
  • There should be more support for charities' core costs and contracts should be longer wherever possible so that charities can plan for the future.
  • There should be more training and skills development for charity trustees in order to improve the strength of charity governance.
  • The Government and Charity Commission should engage more effectively with the charity sector in future and should ensure that regulations and guidance make clear that they are not intended to restrict charities' vital campaigning and advocacy roles.
  • There should additional support for charities with digital technology and innovation; by bringing in trustees with digital expertise, and by infrastructure bodies sharing knowledge and best practice on innovation and training opportunities.
In response to the report, Barney Mynott, Head of Public Affairs at NAVCA, said:
“This weighty publication shows the Select Committee has done a thorough job. We are delighted to see support for grant funding, a re-commitment to not paying trustees, recognition that charity campaigning is a ‘sign of a healthy democracy’ and the timely expression of concern about the Charity Commission introducing charging.
“But maybe some of the commissioning recommendations lack ambition. Bidding consortia is not working for smaller charities and there are better alternatives, especially the Single Point of Contact model. We also would have liked a stronger endorsement of co-production.
“We notice the Committee recognise how vital local infrastructure is and the many ways it can support charities but says very little about investing in these services. This is a mistake.
“The acid test is what difference this will make. Rob Wilson and OCS have to take up the challenge of this report and turn these words into real support for charities.”
To download the report, click here.
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