Wednesday, 23 March 2011

The Budget; start up Britain includes us!

Well, some good news at the start .

The Community Investment Tax Relief is to remain. I wrote to the Chancellor urging him to keep the relief. Thanks George.

Interesting he announced more apprenticeships for young unemployed. That is good. But we need to go further by bringing back the Future jobs Fund. It will happen. No government can or should ignore the scandal of growing youth unemployment. More measures are needed.

I have been critical of HMT and HMRC for the past few years for failing to act on simplifying gift aid arrangements. So it was very heartening that he announced what sounds like strong and important changes in the scheme. He is right to say a country must be judged by the compassion of its people. Reforms to support giving are crucial to this. Government support to ramp up giving is very welcome. The changes on inheritance tax are an important step forward. Gift aid on small donations , as in money we put in buckets at the tube etc , is an excellent change, in particular as well as radical simplification to the scheme .

I was rather hoping there might be more money to address the growing " pot holes" in our sector, which councils are currently hacking away at, as opposed to the £100 million potholes scheme he did announce!

I have written to the Chancellor welcoming the measures on charitable giving, the recognition of our call to retain CITR, and calling on him to ensure that the "start-up Britain" campaign takes full account of the value and potential of our sector and social enterprise. But I will also be making clear that in addition to the positive measures in the Budget, we need action now from the Government to get a grip on local cuts to the voluntary sector. That is where ACEVO will be focusing our efforts in the coming days.

But what is crucial, and what I think the Treasury always misses is that our sector is a crucial part of the UK economy. We provide major stimulus to innovation and enterprise and to growth in service delivery. So we should be a crucial part of local enterprise partnerships. But we are not. We should be core to any growth strategy. We are not; though we appear to be core to local councils cuts strategies.

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