Monday 9 February 2009

The Action Plan ; A welcome start .

Well , it is a welcome start . £42.5m in the Third Sector Recession Action Plan announced today by the Government . The fact that it is being launched by the Prime Minister is a good indication that this is taken seriously by Government . But to be clear , more will be needed as the recession unfolds and more strain is felt at the front line . But the fact that new money has been made available is clearly very good news.
Click here to read the Guardian's front page coverage.

ACEVO will now look to the Treasury for meaningful reform to Gift Aid so that more income comes to the sector as donations drop .With our colleagues in CFDG, IoF and NCVO we are meeting them shortly to press the case . A particular reform I will push is to extend the relief to the higher rate tax band .This is also supported by the Institute of Fundraising . Most higher rate tax payers do not realise they can reclaim the part of the tax back on charitable gifts . And I feel sure that higher rate tax payers would be happy to feel their gift was even more efficient for charity .

We also need to keep up the pressure for an early establishment of the Social Investment Bank . As our taskforce reported , we need £250m for this new Bank that will lend. Parminder of The Times tells me that the Banks reaction to his news story on this was positive in that they are saying they will stick to the deal. So it is over to Governmnet to make it happen . Now.

We will also be working closely with DWP to look at ways we can support job creation and meaningful full time volunteering initiatives . As I indicated I am putting together an informal report for James Purnell on ideas for how the sector can work with Government as unemployment rises .

Taken all together, the new money from the Action Plan and these 2 measures could bring in over £500m for the sector in the coming 2 0r 3 years . We will encourage Liam and Kevin to continue to push hard for these .

There is also good news in the Plan for Futurebuilders. We will be responsible for distributing a major portion of new funding for the proposed modernisation fund ie money to support organisations wanting to merge or form alliances and partnerships . FBE is also looking at other ways it can support third sector bodies , a cash flow fund for example. We will look at announcing our package of support soon . We have also had a gaurantee on our capital allocation over the next 2 years . This is very good news indeed and the OTS are to be congratualted on this achievemnet as I suspect it will not have been an easy negotiation . So well done to Campbell Robb.

My Director of Strategy and I will be at a stakeholders meeting at the Cabinet Office to get the detail of the Plan this afternoon . It is a measure of the journey our sector has been on in the last 10 years that we are seen as central to Government plans to fight recession . But now we had better consider how we play our part ; by planning better , by looking at opportunities for collaboration with others , sharing back office services ,and governance reform. Organisations need to be ready for the potential of a 2 or 3 year recession . So Chief Executives need to be on top of their game . Showing leadership . taking tough decisions. We must also hope that Chairs and trustees also play their part . I hear some strange stories from the front . In recession Boards and CEOs must pull together to develop strategies for change. Use the recession as a stimulus for innovation . Seek out the opportunities for growth and expansion in providing public services. Look for appropriate mergers or alliances and partnerships with other charities or the private sector . So lets gird our loins for the struggle ahead.

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