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The inside track: May 2022

Our latest update on what’s happening in Westminster that might impact charities. This month sees two key bills enter parliament after the Queen’s Speech. More pressure is being put on parties after allegations of illegal gatherings, and there is a new opportunity to contribute to new research on select committees.

Parliament

Queen’s Speech

Last week’s Queen’s Speech was the first to not be delivered by the monarch herself since 1963. we’ve rounded up what we think are the key bills for charities. Some of these  have already been published.

Procurement bill

Last year’s government green paper and consultation gave us some strong hints of what was to come in the procurement bill, which aims to improve regulation of public procurement in order to increase flexibility and transparency, and reduce barriers to entry.  It will start in the House of Lords, and receive its second reading on 25 May.

As introduced, it does not alter the main issues that we know charities experience with procurement, including onerous and bureaucratic processes, disproportionate weighting for price in decision-making (above the weighting given to quality and social value), and annual retendering to try and reduce costs.

In our work to influence the bill, we will be making the case that social value is inherent in the work of charities, and that any changes to legislation should support increased partnership working between contracting authorities, the voluntary sector, and communities themselves.

Levelling up and regeneration bill

The government has also published the levelling up and regeneration bill, which features measures on implementing the missions announced in the white paper, and changes to planning and local democracy. The bill will receive its second reading in the House of Commons on 8 June.

People news

Partygate

The government remains under pressure after the prime minister, chancellor, and a number of staff members were issued with fixed penalty notices for breaching covid rules — though the announcement that he will not receive a second fine may stabilise the prime minister’s position. The full Sue Gray report is expected to be published next week and could cause more pressure, though the government are likely to hope to draw a line under the issue.

Labour are also potentially facing internal disruption over covid rule. Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has committed to resigning if he is fined over a 2021 local election campaign event in Durham, as has deputy leader Angela Rayner, so the coming months could yet see both a leadership and deputy leadership contest.

By-elections

Two by-elections will be held over the summer after Wakefield MP Imran Ahmad Khan and Tiverton and Honiton MP Neil Parish were forced to resign, and the Conservatives face challenges in both of them. Labour will be looking to win back Wakefield, a seat that until the last election they had held since 1932. The Liberal Democrats are expected to be the main challengers in Tiverton and Honiton, and are the bookies’ early favourite, having overturned a similarly large majority in North Shropshire.

Select committee research

Charity engagement with select committees can be a valuable way of influencing government, and new academic research is being done on how this engagement has improved or increased.

The academic leading this research, Paula Keaveney, is looking to speak to charities about their experiences in engaging with committees, and those who have found it difficult to engage.

Interviews can be held in person or online. If you would like to take part, or would just like more information about the project, please contact Paula at keavenep@edgehill.ac.uk by the end of June.

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