CFDG manifesto asks for a level playing field for charities

4th March 2010

The Charity Finance Directors’ Group (CFDG) has today launched its election manifesto, “A level playing field”, asking for proportionate, effective regulation; the opportunity to deliver innovative public services; a tax system that recognises how charities operate and does not unduly penalise them; and the development of a social investment wholesale bank.

David Membrey, CFDG’s Acting Chief Executive says, “The issues we raise focus on reforming processes and regulations in order to effectively help charities do what they do best: focus on fulfilling their missions.”

Streamlined Regulation
CFDG is asking that the Government focuses on better assessing the impact of regulation on charities, and that they allow both primary and non-primary purpose trading to be undertaken within charities (thus dispensing with the need for trading subsidiaries). Rohan Hewavisenti from the British Red Cross says, “we would estimate the savings of dispensing with the requirement to have trading subsidiaries... to be circa £50k.”

Efficiency in Public Service Delivery
Charities and Government need to work together to remove the barriers to public service provision by the sector. CFDG is asking the Government for improvements in service design, commissioning, and funding, and for more focus on building better relationships. CFDG member Kevin Barnes, from Barnardo’s, sums it up, saying, “This is not a plea for more money… but for smarter commissioning.”

Speaking at the CFDG Election Debate, Angela Smith MP, Minister for the Third Sector, supported our ask for charities to be more involved in the design of service specifications and tender processes, saying that one of best ways to improve commissioning is for the sector to be “involved with helping to develop what the bid is… at an early stage.”

Fair taxes
CFDG is asking for a root-and-branch review of the charity tax regime, for fundamental reform of the Gift Aid system within one year, and for charities to be able to undertake joint ventures without attracting a VAT penalty. Mark Salway from CARE International UK suggests that implementing this section of the directive could result in VAT savings as high as £30,000 - £40,000 per annum.

Speaking at the CFDG Election Debate, Nick Hurd MP, Shadow Minister for Charities, Social Enterprise and Volunteering, said, “There’s probably a case for an overall review of how the sector is treated through the tax system.”

A Social Investment Wholesale Bank
Finally, CFDG is asking that the Government sets up a Social Investment Wholesale Bank that supports sustainable funding for the third sector, and builds on existing cross-party support. Speaking at the CFDG Election Debate, Angela Smith also said, “I’m pleased to see that one of [CFDG’s] manifesto commitments is a Social Investment Wholesale Bank.”

The full manifesto can be read here.

- Ends -

Notes to Editors:

The Charity Finance Directors' Group was set up in 1987 and is an umbrella group that specialises in helping charities to manage their finance-related functions.

CFDG’s circa 1,625 members are responsible for the finances of charities with a wide variety of income levels. Between them our members manage some £17 billion in charity income per year. For further information please contact the policy team, on tel: 0845 345 3192 or email: policy@cfdg.org.uk.

The CFDG Election Debate was held on 24th February 2010, at Portcullis House, with panellists Angela Smith MP, Nick Hurd MP and Jenny Willott MP. More details can here.

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