The Chancellor earlier delivered the first Conservative Budget in almost twenty years. As expected, there were a number of changes to welfare spending, and George Osborne also announced the introduction of a new National Living Wage. These, and other top measures, are documented in the Chancellor’s speech, which you can read here.
But what did the Summer Budget say about charities?
Perhaps the most eye-catching announcement was the continuation of the use of banking fines to support good causes, with nearly £70 million of funding committed to the next five years. As has been the case in previous years, much of this money has been used to support military causes. Some of the causes to benefit this year include the Battle of Britain Bunker, regeneration of the National Memorial Arboretum, and an increase in the annuity received by holders of the Victoria Cross and George Cross Association. Other causes receiving support from the Chancellor include the Children’s Air Ambulance, and the Ludlow Museum.
Support for military charities is popular with the general public; seven in ten people in the UK have supported an armed forces charity in the past year, and 50% of people agree that seeing the work of armed forces groups has made them more likely to support other charities. We hope that increased support for military charities can help to highlight the work that so many community groups do in the UK, and encourage even more people to get involved with giving so generously.
The Chancellor also announced a £3 million fund to encourage innovative approaches to help those suffering from domestic abuse. Frontline professionals – including domestic violence charities – will examine how services for victims of violence against women and girls are funded and delivered, seeing to improve the quality and quantity of support given. It is particularly important that charities are able to help to shape policy in complex areas such as this, as it is often voluntary groups that are there to provide a support mechanism to those suffering from domestic violence. This on-the-ground knowledge is vital in reforming the system and making provision better elsewhere.
Tweaks elsewhere will also impact upon charities, including an increase in the Employment Allowance to £3,000 from April. This reduces the amount that some charities (and other businesses) will have to pay in National Insurance contributions, and will help to offset the impact of the National Living Wage. There is also an amendment to the Employment Allowance to make sure that it is focused on charities and businesses that employ staff – however this does mean that organisations where the director is the sole employee will no longer be able to claim the Employment Allowance.
It’s really important that charities and government are able to work together to make a difference, and that charities are not simply left to fill the austerity gap. Whilst the measures impacting upon charities announced in today’s Budget may seem small compared to previous years, it is positive to see charities listed alongside business when it comes to the impact of policies such as the National Living Wage. Charities employ over 700,000 people and make a significant contribution to the economy, and it is important that this is recognised by government.
Although this is the last political set-piece before the start of summer recess, we have the Spending Review to look forward to later in the year. This, the Chancellor announced today, will include an expansion in support for social impact bonds based on consultation with experts. We can also expect to see further changes in departmental spending plans, many of which will have an impact upon charities that are already struggling with an increase in demand for their services and a simultaneous reduction in funding. You will be able to find our thoughts on that, and other changes in the policy environment, here on Giving Thought in the months ahead.