January 2016: The inside track

The Big Lottery Fund, the National Citizen Service, dormant assets and more.

Government

Big Lottery Fund protected

After muchdisquiet, the Big Lottery Fund was protected from a rumoured raid on its funds in theAutumn Statement.

National Citizen Service extended

The chancellor also announced that the National Citizen Service is to beexpanded to deliver300,000 places by 2020.

Call for evidence: Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme

HM Revenue and Customs launched a call for evidence on how theGift Aid Small Donations Scheme is working.

Financial outlook for local authorities

Local authorities were given a much clearer picture of their financial outlook in theprovisional localgovernment finance settlement for 2016/17.

Charities with £3m or high payroll included in Apprenticeship Levy

Employers with a payroll of £3m or more, including charities, will have to pay 0.5% of spending on staff into the government'sApprenticeship Levyto fund the training of apprentices.

Dormant assets

The newDormant Assets Commissionwill be tasked with unlocking billions of pounds worth of dormant assets, such as stocks and shares that have been untouched for more than 15 years. Government estimates that this could raise £1bn for good causes.

Business rates review

The long-awaited business rates review,which charities fear could lead to reduced relief, is likely to feed into the March 2016 Budget.

Freedom of information

Over Christmas, Cabinet Office minister Matthew Hancocksuggested that charities in receipt ofgovernment funding should be subject to the Freedom of InformationAct.

Parliament

Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Bill

The Bill gives the Charity Commission new and stronger powers, mainly relating to how they are able to deal with the conduct of trustees. The Bill will shortly complete its Commons stages, with any remaining hurdles likely to come if the Lords insist on an amendment designed to stop charities being forced to dispose of their assets, which was removed in the Commons at Committee stage.

The passage of the Bill runs parallel to developments in relation to the self-regulation of fundraising, following the publication of the review of fundraising self-regulation. The Bill also contains reserve powers on regulation of fundraising if the current proposals for self-regulation don't work.

Strathclyde Review

Following the government's Lords defeat on a statutory instrument implementing cuts to tax credits, former Leader of the House of Lords, Lord Strathclyde, was asked to undertake a review of the powers of the Lords relating to secondary legislation.

He reported before Christmas, recommending that the House of Lords lose their power of veto over secondary legislation, and instead have the power to refer a statutory instrument back to the Commons to reconsider.

They would only be able to exercise this option once on each statutory instrument.

English votes for English laws

As the powers of the devolved administrations have grown, increasing attention has been placed by some on MPs voting on matters, which because of devolution will not affect their constituency.

To address this, additional stages have been introduced to the Commons stages of bills certified as applying to England only or England and Wales.The House of Commons library has produced a paper explaining thechanges in detail, but these effectively amount to vetoes for English MPs on England-only legislation, and English and Welsh MPs on bills applying to England and Wales.

People news

Following Jeremy Corbyn's victory in the Labour leadership contest, a number of established party figures chose to step down from the front bench, which means there are lots of new faces who you might need to influence.

As predicted by the press and political commentators over Christmas, Jeremy Corbyn chose the new year to conduct the first reshuffle of his shadow cabinet. Only a small number of movements took place.

Even if your organisation is not directly affected, the political implications are important to be aware of.

By removing his critics, such as Michael Dugher and Pat McFadden, Jeremy Corbyn is indicating a move towards a more publicly united frontbench, and in a bid to change Labour policy over Trident he has ensured that in Emily Thornberry he now has a shadow defence secretary who is more in tune with his views.

Anna Turley, shadow minister for civil society

  • A former special adviser in both the Cabinet Office and Department for Work and Pensions
  • Since her appointment, Ms Turley has said that Labour are‘open-minded' about the sector, but stressed her support for the role of charities in delivering public services, and has also made a number of interventions supporting charities' right to campaign.

Heidi Alexander, shadow secretary of state for health

  • Successfully campaigned against the closure of the accident and emergency department at Lewisham Hospital.
  • First elected in 2010, she is a former member of the Communities and Local Government Select Committee, and under Ed Miliband was as shadow minister for London.

Barbara Keeley, shadow minister for older people, social care and carers

  • First elected as an MP in 2005, she has a longstanding interest in social care and carers.
  • Before her election to parliament, she worked for the Princess Royal Trust for Carers.

New peers

Following the election, a number of new peers were appointed. Those with a background in the voluntary sector include Lord Shinkwin, who has worked for a number of charities and has an interest in disability issues.

Other appointments

  • Lord Grade, former BBC chairman, has been appointed interim chair of the new Fundraising Regulator
  • Stephen Dunmore, former chief executive of the Big Lottery Fund, has been appointed interim chief executive
  • Simon Case, director of strategy at GCHQ, has been appointed as the prime minister's principal private secretary
  • Permanent secretary to the Treasury, Sir Nicholas Macpherson, will stand down following the March 2016 Budget
  • David Holdsworth has been appointed as chief operating officer for the Charity Commission
  • Sir Adrian Webb and Maureen McGinn have been reappointed as chairs for the Big Lottery Fund's Wales and Scotland committees respectively

Dates for your diary

5 January Start of theregulated period for May 2016 elections
26 January Remaining Commons stages for the Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Bill
16 March Chancellor of the exchequer's budget statement

NCVO can help you to navigate Westminster and Whitehall

Get your voice is heard by those making the decisions. We can provide a range of advice, support and training, contactThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.for details.

Chris tweets regularly on political and parliamentary developments from@_c_walker.

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