Peer says a Labour government should be more supportive of charities

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Baroness Young of Old Scone, who chairs the Woodland Trust, tells a fringe meeting at Labour’s conference that both the Charity Commission and the Fundraising Regulator put the sector under pressure

A Labour government should build a better relationship with charities, and the Charity Commission and the Fundraising Regulator should both be more supportive of the sector, a Labour peer has told the party’s conference in Brighton.

Baroness Young of Old Scone, who is also chair of the Woodland Trust, told a fringe event hosted by the People’s Postcode Lottery that the charity sector was under substantial pressure, including a lack of support from the two regulators.

“We are being reviled in the Daily Mail, not hugely supported by the government, the taxman is trying to get as much tax out of us as they can and the Charity Commission has kind of forgotten that, as well as having a regulatory role, it ought to be a promoter and supporter of the concept of charity,” she said. “So we are feeling picked on.

“To make it worse, the new Fundraising Regulator, which we all support because it is an independent regulator supported by the charity sector, has set off on a slightly wrong foot in that it believes in punishment rather than support and improvement.”

Young said that this environment for charities coincided with falling levels of funding from local and central government, traditional forms of fundraising and the EU, and with increased demand on charities’ services and tax demands from HM Revenue & Customs.

Young said that Labour should therefore seek a better relationship with charities and prioritise a “more supportive regulatory regime”.

She said: “It does seem to me that a new Labour government has got to support charities and charity better than the government at the moment. If they want us to support people and services, they have got to support us.

“We would like a much more supportive regulatory regime and get the Charity Commission to stop bad-mouthing charities.”

At the fringe event, the People’s Postcode Lottery renewed its call for reforms to charity lotteries in order to unlock more funding for the sector.

The lottery wants the annual turnover limit on a charity lottery to be raised from £10m to £100m, and the permissible value of ticket sales for a single draw to be increased from £4m to £10m.

These proposals echo similar reforms suggested in a 2015 House of Commons Culture, Media & Sport Committee report on society lotteries, which recommended raising limits on charity lotteries and dismissed concerns that this could affect levels of participation in the National Lottery.

The People’s Postcode Lottery said these proposals would help to reduce administration costs, make the lottery system more transparent for players and increase funding to the charity sector.

It also claimed there was a £39.4m gap between the trust income available for charitable causes and the value of the applications the lottery receives. It said the existing £10m limit forced charity lotteries to reduce the number of draws they hold each year, which reduced the funding available to the charity sector.

Young and Shami Chakrabarti, the shadow attorney general, both told the fringe meeting that they supported the reforms.

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