According to NAVCA, the Autumn Statement largely ignored local infrastructure and charities, containing little that is directly relevant to the sector.
Whilst much of the Budget was centred around business and physical infrastructure (e.g. roads, rail, bricks and mortar), there was no commitment made to supporting social infrastructure and no mention of increasing spending on many key public services such as social care.
Charity & local infrastructure – what’s included:
- There will be changes to Gift Aid from April 2019, simplifying the system and reducing the three current donation thresholds down to two.
- Insurance premium tax rates have been frozen until at least 2022/23. This is good news for charities following speculation that a rise would be likely and that this in turn would result in charities having less money to spend on charitable activity.
- We were not given details on how Brexit will impact the EU funding that charities receive, or what will replace this funding once the UK leaves the EU.
- There were no measures announced to support voluntary and community groups, to boost social enterprise or to encourage increased volunteering.
- Over the past few years the Charity Commission’s Budget has been almost halved; slashed from £40m to around £21m. Further cuts are expected and Government has also plans to consult on proposals to charge charities to meet this shortfall. The Budget made no reference whatsoever to the under resourced Charity Commission, or how its funding gap will be plugged.
- The Commission on Dormant Assets recently outlined that between £1-2bn dormant financial and non-financial assets could be put to social use, putting resources in the hands of communities to solve their own problems. However, the Budget lacked any reference to how dormant assets could help local communities.
- The UK’s social care system is stretched to crisis point: Alarmingly, the budget made no acknowledgement of this and no commitment to for much needed increased spending on key services such as mental health and the care of older people.
The omission of the voluntary and community sector from the Budget is short-sighted, and demonstrates a Government standpoint that economic growth is dependent on GDP growth, business and investment in physical infrastructure.
This budget has ignored that prosperity is also dependent upon strong, sustainable and well supported communities, and that charities, voluntary and community groups play an invaluable role in fostering these.
Read the NAVCA full summary document for more detail on the key points of the Autumn Budget 2017.