There’s now just two weeks left until polling day, and with manifestos published and plans detailed in full – well, partially, at least – activists are spending their time knocking on doors and delivering leaflets, trying to inspire their supporters to turn out and vote on May 7th. Elsewhere, despite the attempts of parties to shift focus onto issues such as the economy, health or education, the majority of media attention remains on the possible outcomes of the election, with a renewed focus in the past week on any role that the SNP could play in government.
Last week was of course dominated by the publication of manifestos, and afterwards we took a closer look to see what each party had to say about the role of charities in society. You can read Ben Russell’s thoughts here, including a look at where there is common ground between the parties.
Here’s what else we’ve been up to this week:
On Thursday Sir David Nicholson, former Chief Executive of NHS England, warned that there is a “substantial financial problem” facing the NHS. In response, we cited our research showing that more than one pound in every four given to charity went to health and medical causes last year. Referencing manifestos that stressed the value in involving charities in the delivery of public services, we urged the next government or coalition to turn these warm words into concrete plans.
Turning away from the election slightly, with the release of the Sunday Times Giving List imminent, we released research showing that Britons think the wealthiest in society should give a quarter of their wealth to charity over the course of their life, and that 62% of people agree that giving to charity by the more affluent sets a good example to others. Read more about our research here.
Returning to the campaign, on Monday the SNP launched their manifesto, with Nicola Sturgeon setting out proposals including a commitment to exempt charities from the Lobbying Act and promoting social enterprise. However we argued that it was “disappointing that such little attention is given to the role of charities in delivering high-quality public services.” Read our take on the SNP manifesto here. And don’t forget you can find out what we’ve been saying about each of the other parties too. Just click the name of the party you seek:
Tuesday saw the return of health as a political football, with Labour calling for the introduction of 1,000 new nurses for the NHS. In response we pointed out that charities provide a £2.5bn lifeline to the NHS, and that earlier in the year many volunteers stepped in to help A & E when demand was high. We called for greater recognition for the role that charities play in supporting the NHS, and for the next government to put charities at the heart of the health service.
We also published the findings of a survey that we carried out ahead of the election to find out more about attitudes in the charity sector towards government and politics. We discovered that two-thirds of respondents believe that politicians do not understand how important charities are in Britain today, and that (before the launch of manifestos) only 2% agreed that parties were communicating their policies for the charity sector effectively. You can read more here.
And finally, on Wednesday Labour published their manifesto for older people. In addition to re-asserting commitments already made in their primary manifesto (Labour seem to be publishing at least one a day…), there is a commitment to creating a new Independent Commissioner for Older People in England. Following on from the Growing Giving Inquiry, we called for any such position to include a responsibility for giving more older people the chance to volunteer.
That’s all for our round-up this week. Stay tuned over the next week as we bring you more highlights from the election campaign!