Continuing campaigning in the midst of party politics
Photo by fotologic CC BY 2.0
1 June, 2017
Voscur have received the following statement from NCVO about charity campaigning ahead of the general election. We wanted to share this with our members so that you can feel confident in your campaigning and continue your great work in Bristol and beyond.
I am writing because I am concerned that confusion is spreading about the impact of the Lobbying Act on charities and I want to reassure NCVO members.
There is no doubt that the Lobbying Act is flawed and there is scope for substantial improvement.
However, I am increasingly hearing of charities who consider that the Act is a major impediment to their campaigning. I fear that they are almost always mistaken and are unduly stifling their voices.
To fall within the remit of the Act, charities would have to spend at least £20,000 on activity that could be reasonably regarded as intended to influence people to vote for or against particular parties or candidates. This is something most charities are unlikely to do.
We are approaching a situation where fear and misunderstanding are doing far greater harm to charity campaigning than the legislation itself.
Charities must comply with the rules, both in the area of charity law and electoral law. They must be prudent about maintaining their independence from party politics. But they also have a right and a duty to speak up on behalf of their beneficiaries. The Lobbying Act does not stop charities from doing this.
Should you be in any doubt, I urge you to seek advice rather than to remain silent.
Here are some resources I hope will help:
- A blog post by the Electoral Commission for NCVO about their approach to charities and the Lobbying Act
- Our guide to campaigning during an election period
If you still have questions, please get in touch with Chris Walker in NCVO’s public affairs team: email@example.com.
As I said, we consider the Lobbying Act flawed. We will continue to press for the changes to the Act proposed by Lord Hodgson to be implemented. But in the meantime, I am eager that misunderstandings about it do not stop charities speaking out at this crucial moment.
With every best wish,
Sir Stuart Etherington
Chief Executive, NCVO"
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