Ashleigh Milson, Campaigns and Public Affairs Manager at the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF), delves into how the Chancellor’s Spring Statement could impact the charity sector…
Chancellor Philip Hammond today (13 March 2019) delivered his light Spring Statement at a point in time when the political agenda is firmly fixed on Brexit. The Chancellor has looked to downplay the role of the Spring Statement, so it is no surprise that we didn’t see any big announcements. Perhaps the most important point to note is the confirmation that the three-year Spending Review will happen in the summer, and conclude alongside the Autumn Budget.
The Statement did give some indication about where the government’s priorities lie, and a number of consultations and policy papers were also published. We’ve put together some of the key points that we think will affect charities and giving.
Social investment tax relief (SITR) call for evidence: The government said it was looking for evidence on the scheme, including why it has been used less than anticipated and what impact it has had on access to finance for social enterprises.
Being at the forefront of technological revolution: The Chancellor said he had ambitions for the UK to excel in this arena, with funding included for a new super computer. We believe that civil society should be seen as a key stakeholder in technological developments and regulation if the government wants the digital economy to truly work for everyone, as it could have transformative effects on charities and giving.
Research and development: The Chancellor made a commitment to continue promoting the UK as a world leader in research and development and science innovation, including an international Research and Innovation Strategy that “sets out the government’s ambition to ensure the UK retains its place as a global partner of choice for science and innovation collaboration.”
Focus on the environment: Commitments to tackling climate change were further emphasised, with some indication of what will be included in the forthcoming Environment Bill. This will be of great interest to environmental charities, who will set out their own responses in the coming days on whether the early noises around the Environment Bill are encouraging.
Local funding: The Statement included an update on the Transforming Cities Fund, the £60 million of investment in ten cities across England originally announced at the 2017 Budget. There was also mention of the Borderlands Growth Deal where up to £260 million is to be made available for this innovative deal to “strengthen the deep ties that bind these communities within the United Kingdom.” At CAF we advocate for the growth of place-based giving schemes and see this as a potential route for expenditure, particularly as charities play a crucial role in bringing communities together.
And finally, there was a significant charity campaigning win. The Statement included a commitment to fund the provision of free sanitary products in secondary schools and colleges in England from the next school year. Period poverty has been highlighted by a number of charities, particularly the Red Box Project who will be especially pleased.