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Sector bodies urge next government to establish civil society charter & appoint philanthropy champion

Melanie May | 30 May 2024 | News

Voluntary Sector Manifesto cover details, showing a person holding up a vote form with a another person behind them
Detail from Manifesto cover

Ahead of July’s General Election, the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) and the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (ACEVO) are calling on the next government to establish a civil society charter to help charities and government work more effectively together.

Joint published today (30 May) The Voluntary Sector Manifesto aims to reshape the relationship between government and the voluntary sector. It urges all political parties to include support for the voluntary sector in their policies and manifestos, and maintain the principles of collaboration and partnership into the next government.

NCVO and ACEVO developed the manifesto with members of both organisations.


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Seven key asks

The Manifesto has seven key asks. It asks the next government to engage charities in policy making by committing to establishing a civil society charter alongside a civil society engagement strategy.

It also asks the next government to ensure fair and sustainable partnerships through a focus on collaboration not competition, investing in public service and local government, and creating a dedicated role in the cabinet office that oversees the state of the public sector market. 

The Manifesto also wants to see a reform of electoral law and the rights to freedom of assembly and expression protected, with proportionate policing of protests.

It asks the government to build strong and resilient communities, by developing a strategy to support social infrastructure, providing a successor to the UK Shared Prosperity Fund and introducing a Community Power Act to establish new community rights. 

It also urges the next government to place value on volunteers,by introducing a right to request paid leave for volunteering and guarantee everyone claiming benefits can volunteer. 

In addition, it asks the government to support the charity sectorby improving the tax system and introducing 0% VAT for charities and supporting them to prepare for the transition to net zero. 

The final ask is to make public giving easier, by appointing a ‘philanthropy champion’ who leads the government’s approach to philanthropy and bringing back the Innovation in Giving Fund.

Sarah Vibert, Chief Executive of NCVO, said: 

“The Voluntary Sector Manifesto is a call to action for a renewed and strengthened partnership between the voluntary sector and government. By investing in this partnership, the government can harness the sector’s power to address societal challenges and bring about a new era of decision-making where the needs of different communities are heard and understood. Our manifesto is the voluntary sector’s offer to a new government: we have the skills, expertise and good will to help you achieve real and lasting change.”

Jane Ide, CEO of ACEVO, said: 

“The general election is an opportunity for all political parties to show how much they value civil society and the work of our members in building a society that is equitable and beneficial for all.  This manifesto, drawn from an in-depth process of consultation with our and NCVO’s members, sets out clearly where we believe there is the most opportunity to reset the relationship between government and our sector.

“It makes clear our offer to politicians of all parties: we, our members and our sector stand ready to work with you, and to bring to the table the knowledge, the expertise, the relationships and the understanding our sector holds in order to build together the solutions our communities need. And it also makes clear that we want to see our sector valued, acknowledged and supported by politicians across the spectrum to be the powerful force for good that we know it can be.”