The Autumn Statement and Spending Review 2015

What will this all mean for the Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS)?

Perhaps the biggest news is that nothing is going to change with the Big Lottery Fund (BLF). It may have escaped your notice that a rumour had been circulating that the amount of lottery money that goes to good causes was going to be cut from 40% to 25%. Conspiracy theorists may say that this was a deliberate leak but we are celebrating nothing changing here.

More good news for armed forces charities and Great Ormond Street as they get more money raised from Bank fines. Some of the recipients have been released and locally I suspect the impact to be small. Good news from bad news is that women’s charities are to benefit from the ‘tampon tax’. A good result will be the removal of VAT from sanitary products but, for now, we can only hope that some of this money will make its way to local projects. The first £5 million of the annual £15 million seems to be going to national organisations but  now is the time to start to lobbying to ensure small organisations are able to benefit at a local level.

Many have argued that the new rules around the Gift Aid small donations scheme has not really helped. There will be a full review earlier than originally indicated with a possible call for evidence being made in the next month. It would be great to see it being made more accessible and relevant to small charities.

The Charity Commission has had its funding frozen until 2020. This means it is taking a real term hit to its funding. Watch out for it starting to charge for some of its services. Read their press release here.

There is no firm news on business rates. We know that these will be given to local government and that the uniform rate will be scrapped. What we do not know is what will happen to the mandatory 80% rate relief that charities get. This could be written into legislation or it could be left up to local authorities to decide on a case by case basis which would lead to a postcode lottery.

News that the National Citizen Service will be funded to increase the number of places up to 300,000 by 2019-20 is welcome. As always, the devil will be in the detail, but it would be nice if this funding helped to increase the amount of local input to the scheme as well as increasing links to local projects.

On a bigger scale the cuts to the Department of Health budgets and to the NHS will undoubtedly impact some of you. There will be less funding for the sector, increased demand on the services you provide and reductions in services that some of the people you work with use. The same will be true for those funded by local authorities. They will have less money and, by inference, there will be less money for us and fewer services we can refer people onto.

So from a local point of view this spending review is probably not great news, but it could have been worse.

  • The pots of funding announced are unlikely to filter down to local organisations.
  • There will be less money available from local authority and health sources.
  • We might see an improved gift aid scheme that will increase income.
  • We could see rate relief disappear and rates increased.
  • BUT it is OK because the BLF will still be there so booking your place on our December Funding Fair seems like a good plan email us to find out more.

Much wiser and more considered thoughts on this statement can be found on the Charity Tax Group website and on the website of NCVO. The BBC provides a good summary of the Spending Review announcements.

You can read the Spending Review and Autumn Statement in full at Gov.uk.

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