The Road Ahead

Our analysis of the major opportunities and challenges facing the voluntary sector in 2024. Learn more

The inside track: May 2024

Our latest update on what’s happening in Westminster and how it might impact charities.

This month sees the fallout from local elections, a debate on the contribution of volunteers, and a reminder of what you need to know to support your election campaigning.

Local elections

A number of mayors, police and crime commissioners, and councils were elected in last week’s local elections.

Overall the results matched recent polling. The Conservatives experienced difficult results. This included a loss for Andy Street in the West Midlands mayoral election.

The party has drawn some comfort from Ben Houchen’s victory in Tees Valley. A projected national share also suggests a closer general election than many thought. However, this figure doesn’t necessarily reflect what will happen in a parliamentary election.

It now looks unlikely that there will be an immediate leadership challenge to Rishi Sunak. A summer election is also unlikely, but charities should keep their plans flexible in case things change.

National elections aside, last week’s results will mean new representatives and new administrations at a local level for many people. Now is a key opportunity to build new relationships and influence priorities.

Read our tips for building relationships with local councillors post-election.

Volunteering parliamentary debate

MPs held a debate last week on the contribution of volunteers.

The debate was secured by Jo Gideon and Mary Kelly Foy. It provided an opportunity for MPs to celebrate the volunteers in their constituency and discuss the challenges facing volunteering.

Jo Gideon highlighted this year’s 40th anniversary of Volunteers’ Week and encouraged people to get involved. She mentioned proposals to:

  • provide a right to request paid time off for volunteering
  • allow trustees to take reasonable time off work to carry out their duties. In the same way that school governors are able to do, for example.

We support both these proposals.

Sir Chris Bryant responded to the debate for Labour. He highlighted some important examples of the power of volunteering and acknowledged current recruitment and retention challenges.

The minister for civil society Stuart Andrew rounded off the debate. He praised volunteers and welcomed the work of the sector in developing the Vision for Volunteering. He also highlighted our Time Well Spent research.

You can read a transcript of the full volunteering debate.

Political campaigning guidance and training

We’ve developed help, guidance and resources to help you campaign ahead of the general election.

Watch the recording of our campaigning with confidence webinar, delivered in partnership with Withers.

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Read NCVO and ACEVO’s guidance on political campaigning as a charity.

Refresh your parliamentary knowledge and influencing skills ahead of the election. Book your place at our popular influencing parliament training course.

Listen to my Civil Society Podcast interview on what charities can expect in the lead-up to the general election.

People news

A new first minister

Humza Yousaf stood down as the first minister in Scotland last week. He resigned once it became clear he was likely to lose a vote of confidence in the Scottish Parliament. The vote follows his decision to end the power-sharing agreement with the Scottish Greens.

Former deputy first minister John Swinney was elected unopposed and has been voted in as the new first minister.

A by-election and a defection

Chris Webb has been elected as the Labour MP for Blackpool South. The seat was previously held by Conservative MP Scott Benton, who resigned from parliament after being suspended for breaching lobbying rules.

Dan Poulter, MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich, has defected from the Conservatives to the Labour Party. He will stand down at the next general election.

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