Monday 8 February 2010

Victories and Vigilance

We can notch up several victories for the sector. Today the DH announce that The Treasury have agreed to shelve the introduction of accounting rules which would have consolidated hospital charities into the NHS accounts and so, frankly, led to the nationalisation of charity funds. ACEVO protested vehemently and publicly about this. The Charity Commission did brilliant work in highlighting this.

And we also have got a change on the pernicious idea that academies would be treated as "exempt charities", thereby making a nonsense of the Charity Act of 07 which sorted out the anomaly of having "exempt" charities at all.

Then a dire threat to The Big Lottery fund has also been thwarted. The Lottery Minister had decided on a new Direction on where funds should go. ACEVO and NCVO fought this well and batted it off. The Minister concerned has also announced he is leaving Parliament and standing down as Minister. I'm sure it's not connected but others have commented on the "curse of ACEVO"; if you oppose us beware of dire consequences!

And swapping hats to the Chair of Social Investment business it is great to note that the 3SC consortium we helped set up is now the biggest TS deliverer of jobs under the Future jobs Fund and its contract has been extended and increased as a result of this productivity. It's a gain for the whole sector because 3SC is a consortium which brings together many small and medium sized delivery bodies so showing the value of partnership working and how large and small can work together for common goals. It's a kick for those who try to argue that somehow only small is good and large is evil.

But it is also worth putting on record the work of our Minister, Angela Smith MP, in getting these matters sorted. It proves the value of having a Third Sector Minister post - something ACEVO fought for. Angela has been a doughty fighter for our causes!

But before I get carried away I better just mention Gift Aid. I was right not to bother going to the meeting with the Minister. It was a waste of time and worse than that I'd probably have lost my rag when it was suggested that any changes have to be "cost neutral". So when we know that the bureaucracy that HMT have erected mean many millions of pounds that should rightly go to charity are diverted into the pockets of HMT this is a disgrace.

I wonder if the Minister concerned, Ian Pearson MP, would regard it as wicked if I went into Church and robbed the Poor Box? That is exactly what he is suggesting is appropriate here. HMT are robbing charities at a time when our services are needed more and when the victims of the Haiti earthquake need continuing support. Money that could go to international NGOs is lost through over cumbersome rules and arrangements. You should be ashamed of yourself Ian.

I'm glad to say we have had a more robust approach from Nick Hurd MP (the Tory spokesperson on the third sector) who says the Conservatives will remove bureaucratic obstructions to us getting our money. Good for him.

So whilst celebrating victories when it comes to the workings of Government vigilance is ever required !

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