The new government’s programme of legislation for the current session of parliament was set out in the Queen’s Speech on 27th May. Much of the outline of the content was already known, but there will be a lot of scrutiny to come of areas relevant to the sector.
NCVO quickly produced an overview of five pieces of legislation (‘bills’ when in draft form) they consider of most relevance:
- European Union Referendum Bill
- Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill
- Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Bill
- Full Employment and Welfare Benefits Bill
- Housing Bill
Civil Society News coverage leads with NCVO’s comment that the Housing Bill creates a “worrying precedent” for charities, as it would force some charities to dispose of assets at below market value.
The Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Bill is a revised version of the draft Protection of Charities Bill, which was debated in the last parliamentary session- see last VoluntaryNews item on the topic. The Charity Commission has welcomed the Bill – “the proposed new powers will enable the Commission to protect charities from abuse and will empower charities to make social investments”.
The Bill of Rights is also mentioned as of concern to many in the voluntary sector.
Charities Aid Foundation’s blog reaction to the various measures is also worth a read. It points out that the Queen’s Speech didn’t in fact explicitly mention the charity legislation, unlike other bills.
UPDATE Useful comments from the chief executive of local sector support body NAVCA:
“It is good there has at least been a nod to the work of charities in the Queen’s Speech. The Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Bill has been long discussed and may be of more benefit to the Charity Commission than charities themselves, although the added clarity on social investment is helpful.”
“The policy in the Conservatives manifesto that has the greatest potential for our sector is paid time off for staff working for large employers to get involved in voluntary action. I am disappointed it didn’t get a specific mention and hope this doesn’t mean it has been kicked in to the long grass, rather like the Local Sustainability Fund which has, yet again, failed to surface. I hope we aren’t seeing a pattern emerging of broken promises for our sector.”