Lack of charity sector noise in manifestos no bad thing

Charities are mentioned just four times in the new Conservative manifesto, according to someone in the charity press busy with Ctrl+F – and just once in the Labour equivalent (details below, if anyone’s interested).

It is a common trait of many working in national charities to over-estimate the importance of the charity sector, based, I reason, on a mixture of misguided moral high-ground and peculiarly easy access to celebrities and politicians.

Of course, the Government, and the Opposition, don’t really care about the charity sector.

Unless you make a living writing about or claiming to represent charities, you probably shouldn’t be too concerned about this – because Government does care about a long list of issues that many UK charities deal with, including health, housing, education, social divisions, older people, younger people, poverty, employment, rights, overseas relationships, crime, immigration… and the cost of absolutely everything.

There are many organisations who can advise, cajole, persuade and arm-twist Government to make decisions about these issues, many of them bad ones. Organisations that don’t make a profit tend to be the best at representing those with the quietest voices and the greatest needs – which is why charities and other non-profit organisations have a particular duty to do whatever it takes to get their issues into manifestos, and then hold Government to account in making lives better.

Government understands that some charities have knowledge about issues and people that can’t be accessed elsewhere, and that this knowledge will help to make better decisions. The recent manifestos show that many non-profit organisations are doing a good job of getting their issue in the spotlight. Treating 155,000 different organisations as a homogenous group doesn’t help with this, so perhaps the lack of noise about ‘the charity sector’ in the recent manifestos is a good start for those committed to persuading Government to do more good.


The Conservative and Unionist Party

  • We will make sure our councils get the help they need to deal with people as they arrive, and establish schemes to help individuals, charities, faith groups, churches and businesses to provide housing and other support for refugees
  • We will make the UK the leading research and technology economy in the world for mental health, bringing together public, private and charitable investment
  • A Conservative government will develop a digital charter, working with industry and charities to establish a new framework that balances freedom with protection for users,and offers opportunities alongside obligations for businesses and platforms
  • We will continue with our £1.9 billion investment in cyber security and build on the successful establishment of the National Cyber Security Centre through our worldleadingcyber security strategy. We will make sure that our public services, businesses,charities and individual users are protected from cyber risks.

The Labour Party

  • We will safeguard our democracy by repealing the Lobbying Act, which has gagged charities, and introduce a tougher statutory register of lobbyists.