Downing Street sign

Snap election 2017: What does it mean for the sector?

By Patrick Murray 19 April 2017

So here it is—an election that many (including yours truly) were not expecting given all the noises coming out of Number 10. A week ago the big electoral game in town this spring was the metro mayors. But as a former Prime Minister once famously said ‘a week is a long time in politics’. Now these important new posts will serve as a mere aperitif to a Brexit feast.

What does it mean for the charity sector? Undoubtedly Brexit looks to be the defining issue of this election. But as some have already pointed out, it is an opportunity for charities to make their voices heard for the causes and beneficiaries they exist to serve. And it’s important charities take this chance. For one, charities and civil society are an important part of a democratic system. But we’ve also seen recently how concerted action can achieve real legislative change. Worries about the ‘chilling effect’ of the Lobbying Act can be somewhat overblown for many charities, as Charlotte Ravenscroft, a member of our Policy Advisory Board, outlined today. One big question we’ll be looking at in the coming weeks, through a series of blogs on campaigning, is how can charities make their voices heard effectively?

And what should the sector more broadly be looking to argue for from politicians? Just recently our Chief Executive Dan Corry, along with academic Gerry Stoker, outlined their view in a provocation pamphlet on making the ‘shared society’ a reality. They urge policy-makers to start their thinking from the perspective of strengthening civil society. We’ll be communicating these ideas, and others such as our response to the Lords Select Committee on Charities, to the political parties to ensure charities are at the heart of the new government’s agenda post June 8th.

The next few weeks promise to be a frenetic time, as the political campaigning machines kick into gear. Charities can, and should, influence the agenda of whatever government comes next. But there’s also much that charities can do themselves outside of the political process to ensure they are facing the changing world from a position of strength. So we’ll be launching our State of the Sector research on May 24th to support leaders in thinking through how they can deliver greater impact in these increasingly turbulent times.