General Election 2024

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Saskia Konynenburg

Saskia Konynenburg

Executive Director

Executive Director

Labour’s priorities ‒ our guide for the charity sector

Saskia Konynenburg

Saskia Konynenburg

Executive Director

Executive Director

It’s been less than a week since the election, but a lot has already changed. Our executive director, Saskia Konynenburg, shares our analysis of what it means for the charity sector.

New ministers

Most government positions have now been appointed. We’re still waiting for the minister for civil society to be announced. It had been expected to be the shadow minister, Lilian Greenwood, but she has been appointed to the Department for Transport.

Shadow minister for culture, media and sport, Thangam Debbonaire, lost her Bristol Central seat. Previous shadow development minister, Lisa Nandy, has now been appointed secretary of state for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

Before entering parliament Nandy worked for several charities including Centrepoint and the Children’s Society. We can be optimistic that she’ll be more than understanding of the challenges facing civil society.

We’re already in talks with DCMS to arrange a meeting with the new secretary of state in the coming days. This signals that Labour is prioritising its relationship with the voluntary sector.

The new Conservative opposition cabinet has also been announced. Stuart Andrew will not be the new shadow minister for civil society. He has instead been appointed as Conservative chief whip.

Charities and lived experience are at the heart of the new government

Probono Economics highlights 242 MPs in the new parliament have a background in the charity sector. Experience ranges from employment to volunteering, fundraising and being a patron.

Crucially, cabinet ministers have much more experience in charities too. Eight members of the cabinet have worked in charities. This includes including Wes Streeting and Liz Kendall. Four former shadow civil society ministers are now a secretary of state. Only two members of the Sunak cabinet had charity experience.

Many appointments have prioritised those with lived experience, rather than just political experience. Keir Starmer has talked a lot about the importance of a health secretary who relied on the NHS for cancer treatment, a housing minister who grew up in social housing, and an education secretary who went through the state school system.

Other appointments signal that Labour values having lived experience at the heart of in decision making. For example, the appointment of James Timpson as prisons minister and Sir Patrick Vallance as minister for science. This is where charities can also play a role to ensure that the voices of those we’re trying to help are heard.

The new government is committed to being mission-led

Labour’s priorities align with its five missions to rebuild Britain. They will deliver these via new ‘mission delivery boards’.

The top priority is economic growth. The Treasury is establishing a ‘growth delivery unit’ and a growth mission board. Although money is tight, it’s important to remember that funding decisions are a political choice.

Engaging with the voluntary sector does not cost money, but will build trust and collaboration. It will help the government to develop better policy that tackles the root causes of issues we are all trying to solve.

Any organisation hoping to engage with Labour will need to frame their approach around how they can help the new government to achieve its missions. Especially on cross-departmental issues.

Expect a busy month of policy announcements

July is likely to be a very busy month before a short parliamentary break in August. Labour will want to use the next few weeks to get the ball rolling on several of their mission-critical policy objectives.

For example, on Monday they announced that it was ending the ban on new onshore wind turbines in England. This is seen as crucial to generating economic growth and meeting their net zero ambitions. It also demonstrates that the new government is eager to get started.

The next major moment will come on Wednesday 17 July with the King’s Speech. This will outline Labour’s legislative agenda and which bills it plans to prioritise in the first few months of government.

Labour will want to table some of its priority bills quickly. For example, those to reform workers’ rights and to establish GB Energy. They will aim to table these priority bills before the autumn budget and spending review. The budget will set out the economic challenges facing the UK.

During our voluntary sector hustings, Labour MP Lilian Greenwood said there will not be ‘tonnes of funding’. Labour has long been managing expectations on spending. This follows a high level of scrutiny during the election campaign on potential tax increases.

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