Commission urges Treasury to support social sector in Spending Review
The Law Family Commission on Civil Society has urged the government to support the social sector in five key areas ahead of this month’s Spending Review.
In a letter to the Chancellor, the Commission identified productivity, philanthropy, data, wellbeing and the relationship between government and the social sector as priorities for the Spending Review and Budget on October 27.
It is recommending the Treasury helps to boost the effectiveness of the social sector by setting up a national Civil Society Catapult Centre, building on the successful Catapult Network model for businesses, to drive forwards progress on issues such as improving skills and digital adoption in the sector.
In addition, the Commission is urging the government to create a funding pot to run three to five civil society infrastructure pilots in levelling up priority areas with weak civil society.
The Commission has supported proposals from the Bennett Institute to appoint a ‘Philanthropy Commissioner’ in government to make the case for greater philanthropic giving in the UK, as well as recommending a review of Gift Aid to reduce the estimated £380million of eligible Gift Aid payments charities miss out on each year.
On data, the Commission has renewed its call for a social sector satellite account to be set up in the National Accounts, alongside a National Social Sector Data Strategy. It is also recommending the Charity Commission introduce digital filing of annual accounts in a machine-readable format.
Central to the work of the Commission is wellbeing. Commissioners have recommended the government integrate wellbeing measurements into the assessment criteria for all current and future levelling up funding.
In its ambition to strengthen the relationship between government and the social sector, the Commission has recommended each government department employs a named civil servant responsible for social sector engagement.
The Commission has also encouraged the government to invite the social sector to set up an advisory group to support the rollout of levelling up nationally.
The Commission, which is delivered by Pro Bono Economics, is chaired by former Cabinet Secretary Lord Gus O’Donnell and is being led by experts including Stephan Shakespeare of YouGov, Sir Harvey McGrath of Big Society Capital and Dame Nancy Rothwell of the University of Manchester.
Matt Whittaker, LFCCS Commissioner and CEO of Pro Bono Economics, said:
“The Budget and Spending Review come at a pivotal time for the UK. The Chancellor faces many difficult decisions as he seeks to balance the investment needed to build a sustainable recovery from the Covid crisis with his determination to manage the public finances prudently.
“The UK’s social sector will have an instrumental role to play in supporting that balancing act, along with nearly every item on the government’s agenda. To ensure it can play that role to the best of its ability, the Law Family Commission is calling on the Chancellor to focus on five key areas – covering everything from facilitating more philanthropic giving to the establishment of new institutions designed to boost productivity in the social sector.
“The country needs a social sector which is firing on all cylinders. It is a vital part of our social fabric, a major employer and a significant source of fiscal benefits. The Commission is urging the government to recognise this in the crucial decisions it is about to take.”
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