Tuesday, 28 October 2008

what do we want and when will we get it?

Monday and a letter from Angela Eagle MP, one of the Treasury Ministers. I had written to the Chancellor calling for action to support the sector as we face the challenge of recession, and in particular an emergency fund of £500ml and action on Gift Aid. Clearly the sector does not rate a reply from the Chancellor himself.

The reply is, frankly, disappointing (and I am being charitable here). It tells me nothing and promises me less. In response to our call for an emergency fund to support charities facing rising demand and falling income I am told that "the Government is already investing £515ml across the third sector over the course of the Comprehensive Spending Review ".

I could, of course, point out that the Government were also providing support to small business before the recession hit, but this has not stopped them from finding a rescue package of up to £12billion. Yes, that is billions not millions. As one of my members said to me last night, "I am sick of hearing about Government support for small business. I am a small business but they are not supporting me."

So the letter promises nothing. The message is that we have had all we are getting. This is simply not good enough.

We know the government are providing support to the sector. But that was then.This is now. We face the challenge of a recession. Do the Government wish to help us support the victims of recession by support to third sector or not? Do they want to ensure that charities do not go under during this crisis?

And as for my suggestions of radical action on Gift Aid, well, this is all very "complex", they require "better understanding" and a full assessment of the risks and this will not be a quick process. Aren't we lucky that this was not the response they took when the banks were collapsing.

I know a brush off when I see it. It is not good enough and this response merely ensures I will be even more energised to fight our case .

A meeting this morning with Stuart Etherington and John Low has agreed a common line for us to take at the meeting we have this afternoon with Kevin Brennan, the Third Sector Minister, on securing a guarantee on the lost Icelandic assets. It will be a test of government resolve to support our sector.

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