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General Election 2024: How charities can help turn manifestos into reality

After yet another tumultuous week in British politics, we’ve now seen several of the parties publish their election manifestos. A lot of charities and think tanks – including NPC – have also published their ideas for what the next government should do. But what are these documents really for?

Of course, the organisations publishing them hope they will attract new supporters. But beyond that, they are designed to be plans for power and blueprints for change. At least they should be. In reality, it’s all too easy for them to become just wish lists.

The best manifestos and policy ideas are about how make change happen. That’s where charities have a central role to play. They can be vital delivery partners for the new government. Helping to implement new policies and ideas at the local level and make change real.

Ways in which we think charities, philanthropists, and the social sector can work in partnership with government include: tackling regional inequality, supporting impact with data, and making environmental policy work for everyone.

Reducing regional inequality

One phrase you’ll see less of in this year’s manifestos is ‘Levelling Up’. In 2019, it was central to the election debate. In 2024, it’s receded. But the challenge of the UK’s regional inequality remains as urgent.

Encouraging donors and philanthropists to give in the poorest areas of the country could help the new government deliver successful social change by boosting charitable activity where it’s needed most.

Measures such as Gift Aid reform, tax incentives, and matched giving (where government matches charitable contributions from private funders) should be part of a national philanthropy and social investment strategy to maximise and effectively target giving.

Gift Aid specifically has a lot of potential. Varying gift aid by region can help attract more donors where they’re needed. And making gift aid collection automatic could raise £564 million each year to invest in regional growth.

We’re calling for government to direct this cash and existing funding streams into a new ‘Social Growth Fund’. This fund would support social programmes that improve people’s health, get people into work, and tackle inequality in the most deprived areas.

Supporting impact with data and shared decision-making

To support charities to boost their impact, we’re calling on the government to set up more platforms to share data on what approaches work. Building on the success of the Justice Data Lab and the Employment Data Lab, we want to see more Data Labs in other areas like education and health.

Good data can help government and the social sector to reach the right people. But to do that on a regular basis, they need to be talking to each other.

We think that government should require departments to publish a strategy for how they’ll work with the voluntary sector. To make sure that it has bite, a responsible Director from each department would report progress to a council chaired by the Prime Minister.

Similar structures should be created at local level. These would include a requirement for public services and ‘metro Mayors’ to publish charity partnership action pans, and a role for charities in NHS Integrated Care Systems decision-making.

Finally, we think that charity trustees should be required by the Charity Commission to report more substantially on their organisation’s impact and how they intend to improve it.

Making environmental policy work for everyone

Climate change and nature loss haven’t featured much in the campaign, outside of river sewage. But they will only become bigger issues during the next Parliament. Our policy response needs to benefit everyone. No one should miss out on government support, lower energy bills, or better health because of who they are.

On this issue, we’ve joined with 32 other charities to share the views of Disabled people, older people, young people, and people from ethnic minorities. Our recommendations are based on surveys, focus groups, and charities’ experiences.

We’re calling on the next government to make sure environmental subsidies don’t just favour richer households. For example, we want government to prioritise the installation of heat pumps, solar panels, and insulation in rented and social housing.

But as mentioned above, it’s not just about good ideas – it’s about structures for delivery. We’re calling for a requirement for fairness in green policies to be put into law. And for ongoing monitoring of the costs and benefits of environmental policies on all groups.


Whichever party voters put into power on July 4, there will be a lot of new MPs.

As these new lawmakers get to work on tackling the country’s biggest problems, we encourage them to utilise the expertise and capabilities of the philanthropists and charities who also want to create change. Together, we can make a wish list into a reality.

Read NPC’s ‘Partners for Change’ and ‘Making environmental policy work for everyone’.