Changes to the government’s planned ‘anti-lobbying clause’ that will see it replaced by new grant-making standards have been welcomed by the charity sector.
Criticism regarding the proposed clause, which was to see a ban on charities in receipt of government grants from using those funds to lobby the government and parliament, had led to the government pausing its implementation back in April to revise its approach. The new standards however will safeguard the role of charities and others in presenting evidence to government and parliamentarians.
As well as tackling this particular issue, the standards include actions aimed at preventing another Kids Company situation. A Grants Advice Panel is to be created under the standards, which will consider ‘high risk, new and contentious’ expenditure as well as any significant increase in funding to existing grant schemes. In addition all departments will be required to have robust grants approval process for spend over £100,000, and all grants need to be reviewed annually at a minimum.
The new grant standards can be downloaded from the .gov.uk site, with details on eligible and ineligible expenditure set out in standard 6.
Rob Wilson, Minister for Civil Society, said:
“Government grants fund important work by thousands of charities in local communities across the country. The new grant standards will not only increase the opportunity for charities to work with government through improved grant making practices, they will better protect the role of charities to speak out on behalf of their beneficiaries whilst ensuring taxpayers’ money is used as intended.”
Sir Stuart Etherington, chief executive of the NCVO, said:
“The original clause was counterproductive and would have meant grant-funded charities would be unable to provide crucial insights that improve legislation, regulation and public services.
“This fundamental flaw has been recognised by the government and its new guidance is crystal clear in saying that activities such as raising issues with ministers and civil servants, responding to consultations and contributing to the general policy debate are not only permitted but actively welcomed. The new standards also have the potential to improve grant-making across government, ensuring public money is fairly awarded and effectively spent.”