UKIP became the latest (and final!) party to launch their manifesto this week, with Nigel Farage setting out his party’s plans in Thurrock, one of the areas in which the party hopes to make headway in a few weeks time.
UKIP’s manifesto includes a number of interesting proposals for the charity sector – some of which will be enthusiastically received, others less so. Plans to exempt foodbanks and charity shops from waste charges will be particularly welcome, and ensure that charities working in those areas are able to focus on providing support to those in need.
A well-trailed commitment to reducing spending on overseas aid is repeated, with UKIP the only party currently wishing to see a reduction from the current 0.7% commitment. Turning back to the UK, UKIP sees a role for charities in providing public services, particularly in working closely with older people and veterans. Plans to increase advice for pensioners are also interesting, particularly following a recommendation from the Growing Giving Inquiry suggesting that such sessions could be used as a way of encouraging older people to engage in giving.
The manifesto also pledges to clamp down on ‘fake charities,’ which will raise eyebrows across the sector. Anyone with an interest in finding out whether this is actually an issue would be advised to read an article by Rhodri Davies on this topic here.
UKIP remains uncomfortable with the role of the state in increasing support for charities. There is a commitment to abolishing the ‘Big Society’ programme and the National Citizen Service, as well as International Citizen Service Volunteers – something that the Conservatives pledged to treble yesterday. Government support can be vital in encouraging people to engage in giving and volunteering, and relatively small amounts of investment can generate hugely positive change for communities. A failure to continue programmes such as NCS would run the risk of weakening our proud giving culture.
Commenting on UKIP’s manifesto John Low, Chief Executive of the Charities Aid Foundation, said:
“Their proposal to dismantle Government support for volunteering and social action would be a deeply retrograde step. Certainly charities must stand on their own feet, but Government has a vital role to play in helping civil society to flourish. A small investment by Government helps yield huge positive change in peoples’ lives and in our communities, and helps to nurture and maintain the generosity that enables charities to continue to supporting some of the most disadvantaged people in Britain today.”
In terms of reviewing manifestos, that’s all from up until the SNP launch theirs next week. Stay tuned tomorrow though, where we’ll be bringing you our round-up of the campaign over the last week.